Apple's P2P mobile payment service would 'create a shockwave' in the industry

Matt Hamblen

Apple could layer P2P payments atop its iMessage service, creating a "compelling and intuitive service," McKee added. Apple could also push P2P payments software down to any recent iPhone via a software update, while other providers would face a more complex path to drive adoption.

Apple reportedly wouldn't charge banks for using its potential P2P payment service, which shows that Apple is intent on luring users into daily use of the iOS platform, for payments and other services, like music and video.

In any future Apple P2P service, banks stand to benefit from Apple's high standing with consumer satisfaction. But banks also might see long-term cost reductions through a P2P service as a replacement for inefficient and costly checks and cash, analysts said.

But cash and checks are still heavily used in the U.S., so any widespread adoption of P2P payments could take years, if not decades.

Africa points the way to P2P mobile payments

The use of P2P mobile payments is already widespread in many developing countries, especially in some nations in Africa, where the use of banks is very low and consumers are often referred to as "unbanked."

"P2P is big in Africa and usually works through the wireless carrier's billing or prepaid systems and the interface is SMS," Litan noted.

The prospect that the U.S. or other developed countries might move someday to a P2P mobile payment system that cuts out well-established banks and credit card companies may seem farfetched. But not entirely.

An Apple P2P mobile payment service "could be a viable model in other countries," added Darren Hayes, an assistant professor and director of cybersecurity at Pace University.

"P2P payments have been around for many years in certain countries where credit cards aren't trusted," Hayes said. Also, PayPal isn't available in every country, which could give Apple a potential advantage.

Apple's iPhones are highly secure and users are likely to trust them for P2P as they have for Android Pay, Hayes said.

Hayes said he is often called as an expert witness in courtrooms where he provides smartphone forensics testimony, after working with law enforcement agencies to break down confiscated smartphones to find critical data needed for investigations. He said iPhones are the most difficult smartphones to break into.

Given Apple's high level of security with the iPhone and Apple Pay, it would likely "engender trust for people who are looking for alternatives to pay, as well as for using something other than a credit card," Hayes said. "It's just a logical step for Apple to move to P2P."

P2P mobile payments, long term

The biggest implications for Apple and its competitors in mobile P2P payments are long term. In coming years, P2P payments could help replace the use of checks and could even help consumers largely cut banks out of the payment process.

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