Rumors are that there’s yet another great feature which will be launched by Apple soon (according to all hints dropped so far, as soon as fall). After this Monday’s announcement about the new features launched by Facebook for iOS, it just seems like the good news for Apple fans just keep rolling in. Apparently, Apple has been having a lot of talks with companies from the payment industry in the past few months, in order to come to an understanding for collaborating on a mobile wallet feature for iPhones. This new feature would be designed to allow the users to pay for physical goods as well (even while physically being in a retail store, not just on the web), virtually opening up a whole new world of shopping for iPhone users.
Of course, shopping from your iPhone is also available at the moment as well; only that it requires a third party involvement from a payment processors which steps in to take over the money and hand it over to the retailer you’re shopping from. By partnering up with one of the major payment companies, Apple hopes to eliminate the third party processor from the equation and thus help both the customers and the retailers save up some cash in the process. Rumors are that the company which is most involved in these negotiations with Apple for developing the mobile wallet is Visa, but we won’t know anything for sure until a formal definitive announcement is made.
What we know so far is that this payment solution, the so-called mobile wallet will need a secured element within the iPhone to work with in order to successfully store and process the transactions and payment credentials. This secure element might draw quite a lot from the “Secure Enclave”, built into Apple’s A7, which is a piece of hardware that stores the sensitive information of every user safely. This is done in order to avoid transferring that data to wireless carriers, because that might pose a security breach risk. The secure enclave is basically a separate co-processor within the A7 chip that contains an unique ID and functions independently from the main system, even in the event of a kernel being compromised. This way, all data is contained safely and shrouded from attempts to access it from other parts of the system.
Based on this security system and the partnership with one of the major payment processing companies (most likely Visa), Apple’s mobile wallet feature will soon enough become a welcome reality for all iPhone users. The rumors announcing this move have been circulating around the IT world for years, and have been revived especially with the recent launch of the Touch ID (which came together with the Security Enclave). The Touch ID is a fingerprint-scanning button which makes sure that the user of the device is indeed its rightful owner (or user) before proceeding to any sensitive information exchanges. It all seems to have been planned as steps towards the larger goal of successfully having a mobile wallet feature for iPhones.
Another detail we gathered so far about the upcoming mobile wallet is that the partnerships which will make it possible will most likely include iTunes as well. Although obviously already part of the iPhone universe, iTunes will be instrumental in building the database for the new payment feature, by allowing Apple to leverage its accounts into the new service, most of these accounts already having a credit card attached to them. According to official data, the numbers are quite astronomical: Apple already owns over 800 million iTunes accounts, so incorporating those will give the new mobile wallet feature a spectacular boost upon being launched.