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Commerce


Apple has been interviewing senior payments industry executives to push ahead on a plan to build an electronic payments business, according to two people familiar with the process.

The company has been meeting with potential applicants for two new positions at Apple focused exclusively on building a business around the hundreds of millions of credit cards it already has on file. Apple is seeking to fill head of product and head of business development positions, one of these people said.

Jennifer Bailey, Apple’s long-time e-commerce head, has met with candidates and is currently leading the initiative, according to these sources.

“Their ambitions are very, very serious,” one of the sources said.

Apple has previously said that its customers have set up nearly 600 million iTunes accounts, the majority of which are tied to a credit card account.

Using those payment accounts as a foundation, the company is evaluating ways to make it easier for shoppers to buy physical products in apps and on the Web using their iPhones. The company is also considering how it might best help its customers make purchases in physical retail stores using only their phones and payment information stored in their iTunes accounts.

Re/code reported on these plans in January and noted that PayPal was looking to figure out a way to partner with Apple. According to a source, PayPal and Apple have continued to be engaged in talks as recently as last month. The details of those discussions are not known.

PayPal spokesman Anuj Nayar and Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller declined to comment.

Apple has also considered acquiring Square, the mobile payments company started by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey. Such a deal would have helped Apple quickly establish a network of retailers to begin using its service. But Apple did not pursue the deal.

On the company’s last earnings call, CEO Tim Cook did not hide the opportunity Apple sees in facilitating payments via its hardware and software, but would not confirm specific plans.

“We’re seeing that people love being able to buy content, whether it’s music or movies or books, from their iPhone, using Touch ID,” he said at the time, noting the company’s fingerprint identification technology. “It’s incredibly simple and easy and elegant. And it’s clear that there’s a lot of opportunity there.

“The mobile payments area in general is one that we’ve been intrigued with, and that was one of the thoughts behind the Touch ID. But we’re not limiting ourselves just to that.”

While sources say Apple is now committed to acting on this opportunity, the fact that the company has only recently been interviewing for senior positions indicates that it has likely not settled on specific rollout plans.



3 comments
PhilipCohen
PhilipCohen

As far as “payments”, mobile or otherwise, are concerned, there are already two elephants in the room, the “bankcards”, MasterCard and Visa; if anyone thinks that there is room for anyone else to be given interactive access to the banks of the world’s customers’ accounts, I think that they are dreaming. There simply is no way that the world’s banks are going to let every “payment pretender” have direct, unfettered access to their customers’ funds—that would undoubtedly create a nightmare for the banks. So, all the “middlemen” pretenders have to work via a Credit Card Merchant Accounts with their own retail banker …
 
You only have to follow the negative comments all over the internet about PayPal’s Credit Card Merchant Account operation to understand the potential problems involved for the banks with such “middleman” operators. Indeed, the suggestion is that “PreyPal” is now applying more, and lengthy, holds on their payee’s funds because “the banks” have put “PreyPal” on notice that they are not happy with the ever-increasing number of complaints from their card users about PayPal’s unsatisfactory customer support and, apparently, non-existent transaction dispute mediation process. Apparently, “PreyPal”—unlike the banks—will not invest in the human resources necessary to professionally moderate such disputes, and will not now defend a charge-back by a buyer—even if it is defensible; “PreyPal” will now simply deal with the matter in the most self-interested way for them, and that is to acquiesce to the chargeback and let the payee carry the can. The reality is, anyone that accepts payments via “PreyPal”—or any other third-party payments “pretender”—does so at their constant peril …
 
Regardless, as others have said, the banks and MasterCard/Visa already have an enormous installed base of “tap and go” NFC terminals, mandated for use by October 2015; and, the resulting “Chip and PIN” operation, via card or phone, could not be any simpler (particularly by card), or more secure …
 
Apple undoubtedly already well understands this situation and I doubt they have any serious idea of trying to expand their payments system outside of their own sales. I therefore wonder if these “stories” are not simply the work of the fertile imaginations of those media release regurgitators that today disguise themselves as journalists … 

Meider
Meider

Jason, great info.....

To add to Apple's strategic mobile wallet/payment initiative, Samsung has been poking around the not to surprising payment initiative with a job opportunity that has been alive on their job board since December...."As a senior business development manager for Samsung Wallet , this individual is responsible for identifying, defining and ‘baking’ new business opportunities, negotiating deals and managing key partners to the betterment of Samsung Wallet and also e- commerce services. "

A.J. Weinzettel
A.J. Weinzettel

It only makes sense for Apple to move forward in the Mobile Payments arena. There are many missing pieces of the puzzle though. With no industry wide POS adoption, mobile payments in general are dead.  I would have thought it would have made sense for Apple to acquire Square as well, but with today's news of Square losing millions upon millions of dollars this no longer makes sense. What made sense about Square was a unified POS, loyalty system, payment system and a unified discount system all rolled into one nice bundle. So the technology Apple has, touchID, to make purchases really easy is there and it is slicker than a 1956 freshly waxed mustang, but with no POS integration or integrated loyalty/discount program the mustang will stay nice and pretty in the garage with no place to go.

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