A new note from Barclays analyst Ben Reitzes says Apple is ready to make a “data and payments play” with some of its new products set to release this fall, including the company’s eighth-generation iPhone and first-generation smart wristband.
Reitzes says Apple may unveil some new payments products at its Sept. 9 event, which is said to introduce at least one new iPhone model. Barclays says the new payments platform could leverage near-field communication (NFC); a few previous reports said Apple would include an NFC chip in its forthcoming iPhone 6 for the first time in company history.
An NFC chip, paired with the company’s Touch ID fingerprint security system introduced on the iPhone 5S, could allow users to access and/or purchase new content when they interact with certain NFC-optimized locations or objects thanks to Apple’s iBeacon technology. (Learn more about iBeacons here.)
Apple’s payments platform would leverage the billing information already associated with one’s iTunes account.
This payments concept isn’t unheard of. In fact, Apple was granted a patent for a system known as the “iWallet” back in March 2012, which described a way to let users control their financial accounts and transactions on their iPhones, view their credit card profiles, and see messages from their banks. And if a child owns an iPhone, Apple created parental controls in its “iWallet” system so they can set spending limits on their children and even request authorization from the parent via their own device.
Barclays believes Apple will finally start getting into payments by citing the company’s recently announced partnership with IBM, in which Apple will provide hardware support for big businesses hoping to buy Apple gadgets in bulk, while IBM will supply its “MobileFirst” platform, which offers important productivity tools for enterprises. A payments system like the “iWallet” would help businesses do work but also manage, track, and exchange financial information.
“We look for Apple to tie together a deeper level of integration that could open the door to more data-related opportunities — which leads to recurring revenue streams and a better multiple down the road — and now it has IBM’s help to facilitate this push in business.”
While we’ve seen many leaks for a new 4.7-inch iPhone 6, Barclays insists Apple still plans to release a larger iPhone model with a 5.5-inch screen, even if it may “ship at a later date … with shortages weighing through the holidays.” But the firm still believes the iPhone will be the key to “finally make a major push into the payments market” by coupling NFC with iBeacons to “lower processing costs and allow transactions to take place seamlessly between iOS devices that are in range,” possibly allowing users to send money to each other as well.
“An Apple-based payments system could eventually involve an expansion of revenue streams into promotions and coupons with retailers, but this type of functionality could also be done with Apps from others (and already is, in many cases),” Barclays notes.
By adding Touch ID into the company’s iPad line, Apple could further integrate its payments system since the iPad has a big opportunity in the retail industry (that hasn’t yet been fully monetized.”
“The IBM alliance could help Apple with this coming trove of data — and the management of applications that could result in more predictable revenue streams.”
Tangential to Apple’s alliance with IBM, Barclays notes how Apple’s forthcoming smart wristband, likely called “iWatch” or “iBand,” will give Apple even more data about people’s health and personal lifestyles. According to Reuters, Apple is working with several prominent U.S. hospitals to use its Health software (“HealthKit,” to developers) as a “repository for medical data collection.”
“We view this announcement as … a greater push into the untapped potential of business and nonprofits where penetration of Apple’s products remains relatively low.”
After its Sept. 9 event, Apple will reportedly unveil its iWatch in October.