Silicon Alley Insider is reporting (Wall Street gossip) that Apple may be building an online payment platform similar to Google Checkout, Paypal and the also-rumored Facebook’s "Pay with Facebook".
It really isn’t that big of a stretch, Apple already plays that role for in-app purchases on the iPhone platform. They also already have millions and millions of global account holders tied to credit cards (Jobs noted 65 million active iTunes accounts just last year).
The infrastructure is already there in iTunes. A first stop? Perhaps you’ll be able to make purchases at the Apple Store with your iTunes account. Maybe they’ll build an app for that to ease the transition. Then, they’ll add a few more retailers and all of a sudden, you have the Bank of Apple.
We took a look at the fast-paced and competitive development of solutions which allow you to use your iPhone to take credit card payments, replacing POS credit card processing machines just yesterday. Today’s claim that Apple plans to introduce its own PayPal-competing payment system simply extends the paradigm.
What it comes down to at its simplest level is: What if 65 million (or more) iTunes users could point their iPhone at a cash terminal in a shop and pay for their goods via their iTunes account? Apple has the micropayments sorted, has your details, you have a password, and with Remote Wipe it’s probably a lot safer than a credit card and a PIN number. Imagine, if you will, a situation in which you pay for your coffees in your local Starbucks with your iTunes account. The advantage being the lack of a minimum charge, as Apple’s used to handling small transactions.
Look – we’re not imagining the situation: Apple has patented the notion of using your iPhone as a device to access and purchase food in restaurants and more…
Consider this: Visa last year confirmed plans to develop a mobile payments-related services for Google’s Android platform. This will let users check their accounts, make payments, and more, using an Android phone. Does Apple want to miss that party? We doubt it.
If there’s one sticking point it’s profit margins. Apple currently takes 30% of in-app purchases. That figure will have to come a lot closer to the 1-2% that Paypal and Google Checkout charge if they want to bring more retaillers on board.