Apple Lands Digital Wallet Deal with Amex, Visa, MasterCard

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Apple's plans to turn our iPhones into digital wallets took a big leap forward now that the company has reportedly struck deals with American Express, Visa, and MasterCard. Along with the major credit card companies, Apple has deals in place with major retailers and banks, according to insider sources familiar with the company's plans.

Major credit card companies sign on for Apple's digital wallet plansMajor credit card companies sign on for Apple's digital wallet plans

The source, speaking with Bloomberg, also backed rumors that Apple is finally adding Near Field Communication, or NFC, technology to the iPhone. NFC, the source said, will play a key part in Apple's digital wallet plans.

NFC is a short-range wireless communication system that can be used to managed digital payments in stores and restaurants. Sensors at the cash register detect the NFC chip in your smartphone and initiate the transaction so you don't have to pull out your credit card.

NFC has been tossed around as a new feature ahead of iPhone updates for years, although so far Apple hasn't chosen to support the technology. Instead, the company has been using a combination of WiFi and apps in its own retail stores to handle digital credit card payments.

NFC has been popular outside the United States, but hasn't been able to gain much ground in the country despite its appearance in many Android-based smartphones. If Apple does include NFC support in the iPhone 6, that could be the catalyst needed to kick start wide spread support in the states.

Assuming this finally is the year of NFC for the iPhone, Apple will most likely use its Touch ID technology, introduced with the iPhone 5S, to help keep transactions secure and to block unauthorized charges.

Apple will host a special media event on Tuesday, September 9, where it is expected to show off the iPhone 6 along with the company's rumored iWatch. If the company plans to make a big push to use the iPhone as a digital wallet, it'll most likely make an announcement at the event.

The Mac Observer will be on location for Apple's media event, so be sure to check in with us next Tuesday for our live coverage.

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Assuming Apple does include NFC technology in the iPhone 6, it could be a move to support digital wallet systems outside the United States. Or, Apple could continue to ignore NFC and pursue its own digital payment system that combines WiFi, iBeacons, and apps.

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Must…get…Discover Card…too!!


It seems that Visa and MasterCard were “reluctant” - until Apple signed with Amex. Then they didn’t want to be left out.


I guess that it is NFC that is in my PayPass debit card, and I have to say, I love it! I never pass my card to a sales clerk any more, and I don’t stick my card into the chip reader either, and signatures are a thing of the past as well. I don’t remember the last time I signed for a purchase. And for purchases under a certain amount, I don’t need to use my PIN either. Having all of this inside my iPhone? Sounds cool to me! Hope my bank works with it.


Visa, MC cool.
AmEx Meh. don’t have one. Don’t even think I know anyone that has one. Indeed the overwhelming majority of places I shop don’t even take AmEx. But, I’m glad to see the other two on there, though I agree with RonMacGuy Discover really needs to be on board too.

NFC has been popular outside the United States, but hasn’t been able to gain much ground in the country despite its appearance in many Android-based smartphones.

Yeah the US is a funny place. A lot of people there haven’t even moved over to debit cards as of yet. When we were in Minnesota this summer I was very surprised to see nearly everyone still paying with paper cheques. Apple joining in, and doing what they do best i.e. making it work, could very well be what’s needed to push people to get onboard.


>I guess that it is NFC that is in my PayPass debit card ...
It uses RFID but I don’t think it’s NFC.

You should be very careful with this in a debit card. PayPass/payWave/ExpressPay can be read at distances of several feet, not just the inch or two you use next to a card terminal. It takes a bit of sophisticated stuff to do this but this can go easily into a laptop bag. Your card can be “read” and the details then written to the mag stripe on another card. This can now be used - as a swipe card, not RFID - to charge against your account. Remember that your fraud protection for a debit card is much less than for a credit card - you could be in for a nasty surprise.


@geoduck My understanding is that lots of places here in Minnesota still accept paper checks because fraud isn’t that prevalent and so the incentive to break old habits isn’t quite there.  Although, in my experience, there are certain areas where this isn’t true anymore and there are certain banks, or a certain bank, whose checks are not as readily accepted by merchants.

As to moving to debit cards, if one qualifies for a no-annual-fee credit card, why use a debit card that gives thieves direct access to your bank balance (and no recourse to retrieve fraudulent withdrawals)?


NFC is related to RFID but is (can be) bidirectional. Further details here

and here

NFC doesn’t do security (boooo) and passive devices can be read typically up to three feet (1 m.)


@geoduck: no way am I using a debit card (bank ATM card) anywhere except my bank. Credit cards are safer because of the fraud protection rules.

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