Apple applies for patent for person-to-person payments, secured by Touch ID


When I suggested that Apple could in the future move beyond Apple Pay to become a bank, a couple of you observed that person-to-person payments might make a logical next step in that direction. It appears Apple may agree: Patently Apple notes that the company today applied for a patent for a method of transferring money from one iPhone to another.

Using electronic devices (such as cellular telephones) that communicate wirelessly, two individuals can make person-to-person payments. In particular, an individual using an electronic device may identify another proximate electronic device of a counterparty in a financial transaction, and may provide an encrypted payment packet to the other electronic device that includes: a financial credential for a financial account of the individual, a payment amount, and a payment sign.

The transaction would appear to take place in the Wallet app, and Touch ID would be used to authorize both ends of the transaction.

The user interface may display a prompt to the user to provide authentication information (such as ‘please touch the fingerprint sensor’). 

Payments would be credited to a choice of “payment vehicles,” read: bank accounts and cards that can accept transfers from third-parties. The patent of course notes that all data transmitted between both the iPhones and the payment processor would be encrypted.

Timothy Hurley, Senior Director of Apple Pay Engineering, is listed as one of the inventors.

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  1. Dewald Galjaard - 8 years ago

    What about apps currently run on the iPhone which provide this functionality already? Am I reading this wrong?

  2. standardpull - 8 years ago

    I know people who sell things like their personal car in a private transaction (think Craigslist) – and they like to be paid in cash, because instruments like bank checks can be forged.

    But it is a bit unsafe to be carting around and passing $5000 in cash (or much more).

    If this is a reasonably reliable and safe mechanism to overcome that kind of “large cash-only transactions”, then this is a great idea that can’t come too quickly.

    • I think of this as more of a “Let’s split the bill” or “Here’s my half of the rent roomie!” Without having to get cash, write a cheque or pay any fees associated with digital transfers between differing banks.

  3. AeronPeryton - 8 years ago

    Next step: Wallet learns how to hold money within itself that can be used anywhere that accepts ApplePay. Making it possible to take, transfer, and spend money without a bank or a government’s knowledge – a kind of digital, encrypted cash.

    • yeah its called bitcoin

      • Joe Maristela - 8 years ago

        yes bitcoin … have no idea why all of these other ‘alternatives’ are necessary

    • HirBaws (@HirBaws) - 8 years ago

      What is bitcoin? Minus the ApplePay part. An Apple account will always be tied to bank and your information will sooner or later get into the hands of the government, anyone who thinks in this day an age that there’s a corporation not in ties or spied on by governments is delusional.

  4. This could be huge. With Apple’s current partnership with Square – this would enable any small business to instantly offer mobile payments.

    A few years down the road I see anyone that provides a mobile service; food delivery, UPS, handymen, dog walkers, etc all offering payments through the NFC in their iPhone. Digital Receipts. Voilà! (Although, Apple still doesn’t offer this, as of yet.)

    This could also be a huge benefit to small businesses that use their iPads as their Register, if Apple adds NFC to the next iPad – which they should.

    I’d also like to see the iPhone gain the ability to take payments from NFC Cards directly, too.

    And all of this also ties into their partnership with IBM. I think big business may get lured into swapping their current scanners – which can often cost a lot more than an iPhone – and using a phone which takes payments and has IBM apps to direct workflow, communicate, email, etc. for their employees.


Avatar for Ben Lovejoy Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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