Apple has fulfilled expectations that it would launch a peer-or-peer payment capability to compete with the likes of Venmo and Paypal, announcing at its World Wide Developers Conference an expansion of Apple Pay to its iMessage app, Engadget reported.
The iMessage Apple Pay functionality will be available with an upcoming iOS 11 operating system update for iOS devices. Users will be able to send money to other devices running iOS 11 and authenticate transactions via thumbprint, as they do when using Apple Pay in other formats.
Users receiving money will have it sent to an Apple Pay cash card, though further details on how the service might interconnect with user bank accounts are not yet available. Apple said at WWDC that iOS 11 will be available in September.
This announcement comes only about six weeks after Recode reported that Apple was considering launching such a service, though the company is rumored to have been mulling the possibility for years as it watched the rise of personal money transfer services like PayPal's Venmo.
Richard Crone, principal consultant at Crone Consulting, LLC, told Retail Dive last year that Venmo, which has been edging into retail over the years, could be the "sleeping giant" in the payments space. Does that make Apple Pay the wide-awake giant? Though the crowded mobile payments game is still in its early innings, Apple Pay has been running away with it, posting 450% growth in transaction volume over the last year.
Apple Pay's expansion into peer-to-peer payments also comes just a couple of weeks after Google and PayPal were seen at the Google I/O event strengthening their evolving relationship by enabling more interworking between Android Pay and PayPal. Apple and Google may now be trading barbs as they see who can build the better mobile wallet.
As Stephan Schambach, founder and CEO of NewStore, told Retail Dive in an email, "This is a natural progression for Apple Pay as it looks to differentiate the consumer experience when using mobile wallet features. Apple Pay is taking it a step further by shifting its focus from paying retailers and businesses to the social aspect of paying back friends — enhancing consumer fulfillment by addressing the need for convenience. The easier it is for consumers to make a payment through mobile wallets, the more time they are likely to spend on their devices.”
Therein lies the potential long-term implication of this announcement for mobile payments in retail. Despite great expectations, at least one study from PYMNTS.com, recently suggested that adoption of mobile payment apps by consumers has stalled. But, perhaps adoption can rebound if consumers are given more reasons and more ways to use those apps — like for personal money transfers, for example. In the long run, helping mobile payments become a more culturally-ingrained activity can only help retail.