Analysts make case for why Apple will launch mobile payment system


The Morgan Stanley Research group in Europe believes Apple has all the ingredients to cook up a proprietary mobile payment system, and makes a case for why the Cupertino-based company may launch it soon.

Primarily, Apple in a way is already the “de facto, in the mobile payment space,” given it has 400 million credit cards on file through its iTunes Store.

One Morgan Stanley executive makes a strong case, based on public information and not insider Apple information, on why it sounds likely:

“Recent comments by the company indicate increased likelihood that Apple will launch a mobile payments platform. CEO Tim Cook commented on the December quarter earnings call and since then in the Wall Street Journal that the company plans to launch new product and services categories in CY14. When asked directly about mobile payments on the earnings call, Cook said that customers want to purchase content using Touch ID (the fingerprint sensor) because it is simple, easy, and elegant. Currently, Apple allows users to purchase content from the iTunes and App Stores using their fingerprint but the technology is not available to third-party applications. Cook also said he saw more opportunity in this area, especially when given the demographics of Apple’s customers and the amount of commerce that goes through iOS devices versus competing platforms.”

VentureBeat exclusively obtained the Morgan Stanley document, so it doesn’t sound like it was meant for public eyes. While Morgan Stanley highlights some of the benefits to Apple launching its own mobile payment service, the bank highlights some potential negatives in the research note as well:

“Apple and others are creating an ecosystem of beacons. In recent months, we have seen trials and adoption of beacons and Bluetooth Low Energy (the 4.0 standard). This network of beacons will be essential to a simple and easy-to-use mobile payment network, in our view. In fact, there could be many applications, such as to deliver advertisements or public information, and to locate something or someone indoors. We believe Apple will unlikely launch a mobile payment system unless the supporting infrastructure is ready, based on its historical behavior, since it does not want users to have a frustrating experience with an incomplete network.”

The Wall Street Journal, an often reliable source for early Apple information, reported in January that Apple is looking to push deeper into mobile payments. Specifically, it was said that Apple moved Jennifer Bailey, a longtime executive who was running its online stores, into a new role to build a payment business. Furthermore, SVP of Internet and Services Eddy Cue is said to have met with other companies regarding Apple’s plans to use its iOS devices to handle payments.

In 2012, Apple teased users with Passbook, an iOS app many believed was Apple’s first step into the mobile payment space. As it stands now, the app can still only hold digital copies of transportation and event tickets, and loyalty cards, but there’s certainly some potential there.

Do you think Apple has mobile payments – similar to PayPal and Google Wallet – in its plans?