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Apple’s Mobile Wallet Talks Heat Up

Apple CEO Tim Cook. Photo by Bloomberg.
Apple CEO Tim Cook. Photo by Bloomberg.

Conversations between Apple and payments-industry companies have heated up in recent months, with several people briefed on the talks saying that Apple executives have discussed launching a mobile “wallet” as soon as this fall for people to use their iPhones to pay for goods in physical stores.

Apple has long been expected to make such a move, but it’s been cautious so far amid failed efforts by Google and others to enable payments and other transactions by phone. Now, though, the company’s plans are coming into greater focus. 

Apple has told some partners its system would involve a so-called secured element in the phones—a piece of hardware where sensitive information such as a phone owner’s financial credentials can be stored. The company also aims to run the system without giving up any control to wireless carriers.

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That stance makes sense. Card companies like Visa, which pull together card-issuing banks into a network, could be threatened if wallets like Apple’s take off and Apple creates new types of relationships with the banks, cutting Visa out of the value chain.


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Stephanie Tilenius, Jon Steinberg and 3 others commented on this article.
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If Apple’s wallet system leaves wireless carriers out in the cold, as it has told some partners it would, the carriers would face some big choices. Given the slow progress of Isis, they might agree to work with Google.

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