There are already a zillion ways to send money to people: banks, Venmo, Square Cash, Google, and even social networks like Facebook and Snapchat have gotten in on the act. But Apple is reportedly looking to build a money transfer feature into Apple Pay so iPhone users can send money to each other.
According to Recode, Apple has been in talks with payment processors and banks about a Venmo-like service for two years, but nothing has happened—yet. Those talks are back on, and we may see an Apple Pay money transfer feature as soon as this year.
Apple would approach money transfers a little differently from existing services, Recode reported. In recent talks with Visa, Apple pitched the idea of a prepaid Visa debit card linked to Apple Pay’s wallet—so not physical cards, just digital ones—that would make transferred money immediately available to spend. When you transfer money to a friend with Venmo, for instance, it takes a few days for the cash to clear their bank account. Apple would solve that problem.
But it’s unclear if Apple would incentivize Apple Pay users to sign up for yet another card when they already have debit cards with their banks. Recode says those banks are wary of Apple’s money transfer service precisely because of that debit card plan, which would put Apple’s card above existing cards in the Wallet app and position Apple in direct competition with its banking partners. But that’s not necessarily the case, particularly if Apple doesn’t offer any reason to switch cards.
iPhone users trust Apple’s dedication to privacy and security and might be more likely to use Apple Pay to transfer money versus a service like Venmo or Square Cash. An Apple Pay money transfer feature would almost certainly boost adoption. While Apple Pay is quick and easy to use for in-store payments, people still aren’t using it very often, at least not in the U.S. They are, however, using Apple Pay to shop online. A money transfer feature would add another element to Apple Pay and increase users’ comfort level with the mobile payment service.