Mobile Payments & iTunes

With the most anticipated Apple event since the last one mere hours away, something’s been bothering me.

For Apple, the introduction of its own iPhone payments product will end years of speculation about when it will take advantage of its massive file of hundreds of millions of credit cards from iTunes and App Store customers to create its own mobile wallet. Sources say Apple likely needs approval from either the credit card network or the bank that issued an Apple customer’s card for that card to be approved for mobile payments.

That’s a quote from a Re/code article, Apple Working With American Express on iPhone 6 Mobile Payments. What bothers me is is the reference to iTunes. Apple currently allows you to store a single payment card in iTunes that you use to pay for content. Whilst Apple may lift this restriction to support mobile payments, I don’t think it’s the way they’re going to go.

Instead, look towards Keychain. In iOS 7 Apple added the ability to keep payment cards in Keychain and sync them across devices. This allows you to use these cards anywhere on the internet. What’s more, when you add a card to Keychain, the expectation is that you use said card to pay for things outside of Apple’s sphere of influence. When you add a card to iTunes, you’re adding it to pay for iTunes content. There’s a clear distinction, and it’s entirely reasonable that people will want to use different cards for each.

Another point of note is that you can add multiple cards to Keychain. The sentiment in the Re/code post that seems fairly pervasive at the moment, strikes me as wide of the mark. Apple will leverage their massive database of customer payment information to sell things to people, that’s where the strength lies, not in using it to pay for other company’s products.