Make no mistake – one of the hardest things for most newcomers to the miles and points game (and even some veterans) is keeping straight what card to use at which store and how many bonus points they receive for it. Many people just pack it in and just use one card because they do not want to be bother carrying a specific card around just for use a grocery store and then remembering to use it on a $3 purchase. Could the new iPhone change that? For sure, we will find out on September 9th, but for now, here are some stories and thoughts.
Possible Credit Card Features of the iPhone 6
We know Apple likes to hold things close to the vest, but there are some reports coming out about what the new iPhone might bring to the table in terms of the long-rumored iWallet and some of the news is very encouraging.
Agreements Struck With American Express, Mastercard, and Visa
The reports have been confirmed that Apple has made agreements with American Express, Mastercard, and Visa to be used in their upcoming release. This is huge as it opens the door to the payment processing and integration it will need to bring their mobile payment solution to their phone-toting customers.
Using iTunes for iWallet
Patents and other material seem to point to iTunes being the portal which processes the payments and the point to which credit card companies actually send the statements to. Apple has also been hiring executives with experience to handle the implementation of hundreds of millions of credit cards into some mobile payment business. That’s right – Apple has over 800 million iTunes accounts and most of those are connected to credit cards. That means that Apple already has the customer base to transition to allowing those customers to take their payment usage to other retailers as well.
Smart Payment System
It has also been reported that Apple may use the mobile payment platform in a way that allows the customer to choose which credit card to use at a store and even link those credit cards to certain vendors. It may also use a card as a default at a store when you have used that card there in the past.
This is HUGE as you may not have to remember all of those pesky cards and which stores to use them at anymore. This Apple mobile payment system may let you set it all up before you even go out and automatically give you that card based on location technology. So, if you have the Amex Everyday Card that you like to use for grocery store purchases, your iPhone will use its location services to identify that you are at a grocery store and give you that card to pay with at checkout. No remembering or sticky-notes-on-credit-cards!
Having that type of technology in place could also open the door to allowing you to set a card based on vendor code. That vendor code is how it is determined that you get reimbursed on travel with the Barclaycard Arrival, for example. It is also useful for finding those places that might be identified as an office supply store, for example, to get those 5x points on your Chase Ink card.
How Will This Work?
This would all be accomplished using NFC (near-field communication) technology. True, this technology has been around for a while and has been in use by Android devices for a while. Unfortunately, it has not taken off to the point that many stores are taking payments in this fashion. So, why might this change now?
Apple has a strange affect on moving the market with technology. When they release a device that uses some particular interface, it is not long before their is market adoption of that protocol/interface – even if it has already been around for a while. Part of that is the knowledge that vendors/markets know they are getting tens of millions of users instantly and that it will be something that will be in high demand. Another part of it is that they really do a good job of shoring up market support for a technology before bringing it out to their customers. Combined, that makes for a ready-market for Apple-installed technology.
Since this is expected to be a key feature that will be presented with the iPhone 6, you can bet that retailers/vendors will be looking to make this available to Apple users at their point-of-sale.
One Other Possible Feature – Could Help With Manufactured Spending
Since I was trying to get as much information on this as possible, I was going through Apple patents to see what else they might have in the wings. I did find something interesting from an Apple patent filed back in January of 2013. It involves a cash-dispensing service that will let you use your Apple device to order cash and then be connected with location software with a cash vendor who will give you the money. Granted, there are fees associated with this that would make this an emergency type function, but it could be a launchpad for something more.
In addition to this, they have also been working on transfer systems between devices. It is not outside the realm of possibility to see Apple integrating a feature that allows you to use their mobile payment system to reimburse friends, especially in person. Of course, there would still be a fee assigned to this, but it could make it worthwhile if you are trying to do spending for the purpose of meeting spending thresholds (especially if the fee is similar to other credit processing fees).
Of course, much of this is a combination of reported stories with estimation of where Apple may be taking it. However, it is not inconceivable that they may be taking this to great distances and even move the market a bit since Apple could take advantage of their huge customer base to secure lower fees and possibly make it cheaper to do real ad-hoc spending on credit cards.
Do you have any thoughts about what may come with the iPhone 6 and the iWallet initiative?