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This article was published on May 12, 2010

Transaction: Apple’s Mobile Payment System Unveiled

Transaction: Apple’s Mobile Payment System Unveiled
Alex Wilhelm
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Alex Wilhelm

Alex Wilhelm is a San Francisco-based writer. You can find Alex on Twitter, and on Facebook. You can reach Alex via email at [email protected] Alex Wilhelm is a San Francisco-based writer. You can find Alex on Twitter, and on Facebook. You can reach Alex via email at [email protected]

The patent may have been filed in 2008, but this is the first time that we have had a chance to see it. More than a year ago, Apple filed for a patent concerning mobile payments using your iPhone and has dubbed it ‘Transaction.’

PatentlyApple has taken the time to strip the patent to the bone. If you want an excruciatingly slow walk through the patent, head here. Fanboys only, patents are wildly dry stuff. If you would like an overview of what the patent can do, stay put.

In short, the patent allows peer to peer payments between iPhones and other Apple devices such as iMacs. This makes sense, those are the devices that Apple manufactures. The iPad is not mentioned as far as we could see, not because it won’t be included, but due to this patent being filed long before the iPad’s debut. The iPhone is the device most often used in the diagrams.

The patent allows for several ways to collect payment information for processing, either through near field communication or a camera. The device will be able to store payment information in between uses. On the iPhone (iPad, etc), a full suite of capabilities are available including acquiring payment authorization, meaning that from the device, a full complete payment can be processed.

Apple has crafted (on paper at least) an application for Transaction that lets parties split bills up for individuals to pay their own share. Quite the useful app if you are stuck with five people in a restaurant and no cash.

All together, this is a consumer facing method to pay for things on your phone by credit card or check. Nothing that shocking, to be frank.

Will Apple Actually Release This?

The patent could be a front, set up to block other people from doing something similar. Or, it could be that Apple actually intends to build this and is bent on releasing it in short order, perhaps at this year’s WWDC.

However, there has been news and rumor that Apple already had partners in place to work out payment via your iPhone. Those article focused on waving your phone near a terminal to release funds, something that is already popular in asian countries.

What About Square?

Square, the nifty mobile payment method that works with iPhone and iPad launched just yesterday. The day after, we find the patent that Apple has had under wraps for two years? Sound suspicious if you ask us. Apple is the king of PR and could have planned this.

Either way, the Square is out now and Transaction is not. Personally, given how simple Square looks to use, I must say that I would prefer it over what Apple has concocted, at least from a “on paper” perspective.

Would you rather use Square or Transaction?