updated 02:00 pm EDT, Wed May 12, 2010
Could use iTunes, regular financial services
Apple is considering the possibility of direct payments via iPhone, according to recently published patent application documents. Under a proposed scheme, two essential components would be involved: a handheld equipped with a near-field communications receiver, and a dedicated iPhone app, here labeled "Transaction." To send or receive money, a person would launch the app, bring the iPhone within range of another NFC device and tap to authorize a transfer.
Potential devices to interact with include computers, smartcards and other handhelds. The app could allow for several different payment methods, such as checks, credit cards or even iTunes accounts; to simplify entering data, a camera function could be used to scan and record some items. In any case transactions would be authenticated through a secure link to a financial server. At places like restaurants, some bills could be split by joining an ad-hoc network to organize sharing.
Apple has filed for several patents on NFC payment technology in recent months, most notably an ticketing system concept which could be used for concerts, conferences and other events. A similarly ambitious idea would allow people to book travel through an app which also handles tasks like check-in, baggage claims and even identification.
[via Patently Apple]