The service is not a new idea: recall the efforts (and subsequent failures) of Google and other companies. Prudently, Apple has been cautious in its approach to the whole enterprise so far. Lately, however, it seems like Apple’s plans are coming to fruition with credit card companies like Visa getting on board with the project. According to 9to5 Mac:
[S]ources confirm that Apple has begun work on the iTunes-based iPhone payments service internally. The project is said to be led by former Apple Online Store chief Jennifer Bailey, and Bailey has formed a team around former managers from various iTunes and mobile hardware projects. Bailey has also hired multiple executives from the payments world to work on the future service. Tommy Elliot, a former senior director for Visa (and the Visa-acquired Cybersource payments company), joined Apple earlier this year to work on the project. Andrew McCarthy, a former top mobile payments executive for J.P. Morgan Chase Bank, and various engineering managers from payments companies such as eBay have also joined Apple.
Since Apple’s iTunes already has hundreds of millions of accounts with credit cards on file, it would be easy for users to immediately begin the mobile wallet service once it launches. This could be worrisome were it not for one key feature, a “secured element,” in the iPhone. This, our sources say, is “a piece of hardware where sensitive information such as a phone owner’s financial credentials can be stored.” The mobile wallet would utilize the Touch ID feature inherent in the iPhone 5s. For its mobile payments service, Apple may forgo NFC–which most competing mobile payment services have adopted–in favor of short-range Bluetooth and WiFi to enable transfer. The company also plans to keep wireless carriers out of the picture, giving them no control over the mobile wallet service.
It may be expected that Apple’s mobile wallet will launch as early as fall this year, perhaps with the iPhone 6.