A new patent awarded to Apple this week hints that the company may be adding mobile payments to the next version of the iPhone.
The patent is called “Parental Controls,” and it deals specifically with controlling how children (who aren’t the ones paying the bills) and are able to use stored payment information.
The language Apple uses and photos in the patent papers seems to suggest that product would be more than just preventing children from paying for R rated movies.
“Various techniques are provided for establishing financial transaction rules to control one or more subsidiary financial accounts. In one embodiment, a financial account management application stored on a processor-based device may provide an interface for defining financial transaction rules to be applied to a subsidiary account. The financial transaction rules may be based upon transaction amounts, aggregate spending amounts over a period, merchant categories, specific merchants, geographic locations, or the like. The device may update the financial transaction rules associated with a subsidiary account by communicating the rules to an appropriate financial server. Accordingly, transactions made using the subsidiary account by a subsidiary account holder may be evaluated against the defined rules, wherein an appropriate control action is carried out if a financial transaction rule is violated.”
If implemented, the system would allow parents to control how much their child is able to spend, where those purchases can take place and what types of transactions will be allowed. Images from the patent suggest that a parent will be notified if their child is trying to make a purchase at a Best Buy or if they’re trying to purchase alcohol or tobacco — both things you can’t currently do on the iPhone.
The patent also hints that Apple may be integrating some sort of mobile payment solution that can be used outside of its own ecosystem in the future.
Along with the patent is a photo of an iPhone with Near Field Communications (NFC) capabilities. NFC would allow you to pay for a purchase wirelessly through your phone from some distance, rather than having to fumble around your wallet or purse for your phone, credit card or cash.
Mobile payments are starting to gain steam in the U.S. Apple, though, is a missile piece in the American mobile payment puzzle. While Apple has a history of filing for technology patents it never implements, the patent filing is one of many iWallet-style patents the company has filed. The patents indicate an iPhone mobile payment option may in fact be on the way.
If launched, Apple’s main competition in the mobile payment space would be Google’s new Google Wallet and the recently launched Isis.
Would you use your phone to make purchases in a store? Sound off in the comments below.