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Apple’s Passbook – Another Step Toward the iWallet?

Key Facts

  • Presentation of the new operating system iOS 6 at Apple’s developer conference

  • New Feature Passbook allows central storage and management of customer cards

  • Activation of integrated customer cards via Geofencing for enhanced user friendliness

  • Integration of payment processing is possible


Source: Apple

At its annual developer conference (WWDC), Apple provides insight into the future of the Apple world. As a result, developers are not alone in anticipating and intensively following the conference. The run-up to the conference gives the entire computer and online development world room for speculation about new Apple products and strategies. However, anyone waiting to find about more about the “iWallet”, a control and management system for accounts linked with NFC technology, for which Apple obtained a patent in March of this year, was disappointed.

Aside from new developments in the field of hardware, new functions for the voice assistant Siri, and its new card service, Apple presented its new operating system iOS 6, which will be available for iPhones, iPads, and iPods starting in autumn of this year. A new feature of this operating system, Passbook, is causing a stir, and not just among the Apple developer community.

Even if the name “Passbook” – reminiscent of the handwritten form of the savings account book – points toward a mobile account book, this feature is not an application for processing payment transactions. Instead, Passbook is a feature that is integrated into the new operating system and enables the central storage of customer cards. In Passbook, customers can store not only airline tickets but also tickets for events as well as discount and loyalty cards. Aside from the central management of these cards in an app, another great advantage of this feature for customers is the fact that Passbook uses GPS functionality to activate the cards as soon as a customer finds himself in a specific store or at the airport. Customers therefore no longer waste time searching for the corresponding app on their smartphones.

Apple presented the Passbook functionality at the WWDC with, amongst others, the integration of a Starbucks card.

For developers, Passbook can be accessed via its related interface Pass Kit. Within the scope of functions presented at the conference, Passbook offers developers the opportunity to provide customers with apps in an easily storable and accessible manner. At this point, the option of mobile payment comes into play after all, because the scope of functions of these apps can also include the processing of payment transactions, much as with “pay with square” or the well-known “Google Wallet”.

With Passbook, Apple is not entering directly into competition with these offers. Rather, Apple is giving the providers of these services a comfortable way of accessing Apple’s worldwide customer base. The customers, in turn, receive the option of more comfortably using the wide range of offers thanks to the central management of integrated apps. Opportunities that build on this central management system, such as the categorization and evaluation of transactions processed via Passbook, provide new potential for app developers.

From this perspective, Passbook provides fodder for further speculation regarding its potential to be not just a tool for developers, but the next step toward a mobile iWallet.