Apple Hints At A New Way To Connect People Through Cash

A new patent filing conjures up the idea that we could all be a little more generous any time we have our phones with us.

Apps like Square and Venmo have turned smartphones into an extension of the wallet, so it may come as no surprise that Apple wants to inject itself into the mobile payment industry that depends on its hardware and software—a segment tha has for years been touted as the next big thing.

Just last week a few months ago (though it was released to the public last week), the world’s most valuable company filed a patent application that describes an interesting twist on the mobile payment concept: The unnamed technology is described as an "ad-hoc cash-dispensing network" that would let nearby strangers borrow cash from one another. Say you need two dollars for bus fare. Hit up this program (presumably an app?) with your request, and it would facilitate a meetup with a willing stranger near you. The lender gives you the two dollars, and the app takes the same amount from your bank account and puts it in his. The patent filing describes applying service fees to the cash requester, which could be split between the lender and the service itself.

While the idea seems to be just that for now, it presents an interesting twist on the mobile payment scheme. Despite the possibility that someday physical cash will become obsolete, for now, there’s been no way for smartphones to address the divide between the reality of digital and physical money. You could have thousands available on your PayPal account, but still miss the bus because you don’t have six quarters on hand. Or you can’t buy a soda because your local bodega only takes cash—and maybe Apple’s fee could just undercut ATM’s enough to make it worth it.

This isn’t the first patent application for a mobile payment technology that Apple has filed. Past ones include variations on price scanners and person-to-person payment systems for the iPhone.

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  • Amaya Gergoff

    for pay local bar, it cool idea, for bus ticket before asking a stranger for money, wont be more easy to for once make big enterprises like Metro, Buses, train and so, to change that boring metro pass for a Passbook pass, no more tickets printed, always have your pass updated, less trash, I know not everyone has an iPhone but if there is 50MM iPhones in the world, that would be at least 25MM less tickets printed and trash generated.... and want more, that sw or app for those enterprises should be open source and almost the same for the whole world system, so if you travel somewhere else even next city or china, you can buy your Passbook ticket for that city, and for tourism and heavy travelers could be a very useful help. Right now I hate loyalty cards too, too many and make my purse weight a lot, and money "cash", really feels like pre-historic this days. It is funny that countries in Africa have better mobile solutions that the first world... but I guess there is too much bureaucracy and interest behind this, to implement this kind of "logical" solutions faster, can't imagine how naive should sound place all metro around the world, to be agree on one kind of solution like this, but we can dream right !!!!  instead of print money, invest that "money" updating "people/shops/business" with smartphones and/or technology  and then will be apps for control your balance/ "cash flow" for you and me more easily since everything will become e-money, oh wait and if we dream a little more, that could end up, on will be harder to have money not declared or that goes from one point to another with out trace..... hummmm now I understand why this is not happening faster.... well maybe in another world where people care about other people instead of themselves.... 

  • Heidi Kenyon

    Perhaps you mean "because your local bodega only takes cash"?

    Great article, explaining a complex concept succinctly. Thanks. 

  • Jason Adams

    Stranger requests cash. Person meets stranger. Stranger robs person. Dumb.