Apple could be about to let people pay other iPhone users with just a text or a phone call.
The company has filed for a patent that shows the company exploring options for sending money over its text messaging service, iMessage, as well as other iPhone tools like phone calls, email or calendar invites.
The patent — first reported by Quartz — suggests that Apple will add a button to text messages that will allow people to send money with just a click. If someone asks “Can you pay me back for lunch?”, for instance, a little button could appear in the corner of the message screen allowing people to quickly make a payment.
The tool will probably make use of Apple Pay, the company’s payment system which is built into the iPhone. At the moment, the headline feature of that service is that it allows people to pay just by tapping their phone on a card reader, though it can also be used for online payments.
Other companies already offer such services — Facebook and Gmail, for instance, has looked to build payment systems into their messaging apps. But Apple’s own system would presumably build the payment tools into the iPhone’s software itself, rather than using separate apps.
Apple patents often show wild ideas that take a long time to arrive in customers’ pockets, if they ever do. But the new idea could come much sooner than other similar ideas — the company has already been rumoured to be looking into such payment systems as it looks to broaden Apple Pay.
The company appears to have been looking to hire people for a similar project since at least November 2014, a job posting seen by Quartz seems to suggest.
Apple has also already been talking to the bank that will be required to make the system work, reports indicate. Apple will probably team up with established banks to actually run the payments, so that it can avoid the cost and complications of applying for its own licenses.
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