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Apple’s Digital Wallet Plan Got Delayed, For Now

Before the introduction of iOS 6, the star feature of Apple’s mobile OS was Siri, but it looks like Passbook will grab most of the attention when it is fully functional later this fall. With mobile payments set to reach more than $600 billion on a global scale in just four years, Passbook is Apple’s declaration of war against existing players such as Google and (stepping in soon) Microsoft.

Apple Passbook iOS 6 beta screenshot
During its WWDC 2012, Apple unveiled a brand-new service called Passbook, which stores your tickets, loyalty cards, retail coupons and much more in one place, so they are always there when and where you need them.

Passbook app is Apple’s research into the market. While the App can’t be used directly for maling purchases, according to the iOS 6 Passkit Programming Guide (subject to change) the passes can be sent via email, hosted on a Web server and provide a URL to the user or create an App that interacts with the pass library.

With Google strongly pushing its Google Wallet service, and about 100 million NFC-capable Smartphones expected to ship this year, Apple’s Passbook app drew attention for what it isn’t capable of—linking directly to the user’s credit or debit card. In other words, we can forget about the iPhone becoming our digital wallet.

Sure, some will cry foul because Apple is expected to unveil an NFC-capable iPhone 5 this fall, but based on the current setup, this isn’t going to happen for a couple of reasons: the first one is mentioned by Philip Schiller, Apple’s head of worldwide marketing, who said that everybody is “fighting over their piece of the pie, and we aren’t doing that”, commenting on the latest trend, the digital wallet.

Secondly, Google Wallet had its share of flaws, and since Apple puts a high priority on security, people familiar with the matter say the technology isn’t yet ready to be implemented on Apple devices.

However, this doesn’t preclude the possibility of the iPhone and a digital wallet, but instead confirms Apple’s intention to force and entry into the mobile payment battlefield. Apple is working at full steam on a technology called iWallet, with which it aims to turn the iPhone into the most secure wallet available, just as its recently won patents clearly show.

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