iBeacon Cash: Apple Gets Closer to Being a Bank

Apple continues to edge closer to turning your phone into a wallet and both a patent filing and job announcement demonstrate how its iBeacon technology is a key piece in the mobile payment puzzle.

As I’ve written before, Apple has all the components you’d need to turn mobile devices into payment machines: credit cards on file through iTunes, connection to a secure wireless protocol through Bluetooth LE, and a fingerprint scanner on your phone to create an additional layer of security on top of secure pairing and other forms of authentication.

But now a massive patent filing for its fingerprint technology explicitly outlines its use in payments. According to Apple Insider:

Using a fingerprint sensor embedded in the display, the operating system can permit or deny access to individual users on a per-app basis — one user would be permitted to open a banking application, for example, while a different user would not, even without changing user profiles. 

New Touch ID patent

A mobile, location-based payment system with fingerprint authentication.

Continuing with the financial theme, the patent predicts a mobile, location-based payments system authenticated by a user’s fingerprint. A user is shown checking into a coffee house and authorizing a payment to that same business with their fingerprint, a feature many believe is in the works with Apple’s iBeacons microlocation technology as a complementary piece. 

Wanna Job?

Meanwhile, Apple is looking for an expert on mobile payments. 9to5 Mac reports that Apple is looking for a “Payments Software Engineer that will “help build a next generation payment platform.” Apple says the payment system will consist of integration of payment devices, middleware and acquirers that will “push the boundaries in new markets for Apple Retail.””

You should apply! Afterall, it takes just a smidgen of experience:

Apple is interested in experts in eCommerce, banking, retail, and card industries and lists various payment technologies including Chip&Pin, bank messaging specifications, country specific technologies such as EFTPOS (AUS) and Interac (CAN), and testing solutions used by Visa, Mastercard and others including ADVT, M-TIP, AEIPS, and Interac testing.

Now, a job listing and a patent filing is reading the tea leaves: but what else is there to read when it comes to the cone of silence around Apple?

9to5 speculates that iBeacon will play a part in the mCommerce ecosystem:

Apple is installing its iBeacon transmitters in retail stores in the U.S. with plans of beaming promotions and other relevant info to customers walking around the store. As more and more big companies take advantage of iBeacons and even start offering the ability to complete payments using the technology, perhaps iBeacons will play a role in Apple’s new payment platform for retail. It would certainly be a great opportunity for Apple to finally introduce its own payment system, a competitor to the NFC-based Google Wallet for example, but we’ll have to wait to find out for sure what Apple has planned.

Who Owns the Beacon?
As always, what astonishes me is that Apple seems to “own” the idea of beacons. The media seems to have a hard time distinguishing between iBeacon (a software API that allows you to connect to Bluetooth LE devices) and both the devices and specification itself.

But that’s OK – because if you’re on your way to being a bank you don’t really need to explain yourself anyways. Now, if Apple would add a retractable steak knife, my iPhone will be able to do pretty much everything.

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