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8 April 2012

Apple's iWallet

In Micro Mart magazine issue 1203 I investigate if Apple are about to enter the mobile payment arena with an iWallet product.

The article focuses on a couple of Apple patents for a virtual SIM and an iPhone-based cashless payment and management system, which also includes multiple card account administration via iTunes.

Here's an extract from the article:

Apple's latest iWallet-type patent is a comprehensive piece of work. Published under the guise of 'Parental Controls' it incorporates numerous iPhone-style apps screen drawings, associated operational descriptions and banking interfaces.

The patent defines an extensive and flexible list of transaction control options. All controls can be applied by a primary account holder on behalf of other subsidiary account holders, such as for your children for example.

As you'd expect there are single transaction and daily spending limits, just as you'd find with the current range of NFC-enabled credit cards. However, with Apple's iWallet scenario you'll also be able to set times of day, add specific merchants, exclude certain products (such as alcohol or tobacco) and even define geographic boundaries (which will access the phone's geo-location information).

In addition, mobile communications are used to send rule violation alerts and purchase authorisation requests to the parent account holder. An authorisation request can even have different timeout limits, depending on whether it's an in-person or online transaction that's being performed.

Primary account holders can also define automatic credit top-ups schedules, such as a small daily allowance or a monthly lump sum. And, of course, all purchases will be tracked for subsequent online viewing.

Read more Apple analysis posts.

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