iTunes success as a payment system was closely tied to its success as a content distribution system. Indeed, as an entire commerce eco-system, it was the envy of many. The Cupertino giant never really had plans to extend its payments expertise beyond iTunes--until, maybe, now.
The company recently unveiled its Passbook, which will come bundled with iOS 6 or will be downloadable to iPhones and iPads.
"Its features include the ability to store card information, airline boarding passes, coupons or concert tickets, and it uses geo-location technology to display targeted offers to the user. An example of this feature the company gave is a Passbook user going to a Starbucks and opening the app, where the user would then see their Starbucks membership card to scan," notes Bank Systems & Technology.
This is certainly a great idea. It also raises all sorts of tantalizing questions about where Apple is heading with all this. It seems like a mere hop from a cool app that organizes spending-related information to a full-blown digital wallet. To hear some people speak about it, it's now almost inevitable that Apple will take this step. The company has hundreds of millions of credit card numbers on file thanks to iTunes after all. The next step will be for the company to build out the merchant component, which will likely mean partnering with entities that can support POS transactions technologically.
You can bet that Apple has thought all this through. Not that it has made any decisions. One of the big issues is if it will offer a system that relies on NFC or opts instead for a PayPal approach to POS venues. This could be game changer, and ISIS, Google, PayPal and the others have to be a bit uncomfortable about it.
Jim Kim / Fiercewireless