Peer-to-peer Apple Pay is coming to iMessage, and it’s going to make Apple’s messaging platform even more valuable.
Messaging has become a primary interface and platform layer in its own right. There’s no telling how long that will last — if it’s here to stay or if it’s part of a larger transition towards multi-sensory assistant interfaces — but today it’s used by people around the world not just for text chat but for an ever-increasing number of important transactions. Those range from things as emotionally valuable as emoji and stickers to online orders and payments.
It’s what’s made WeChat the primary platform in China and what led to Facebook pushing Messenger, buying WhatsApp, and doing everything it can to own intercommunications. It’s also what’s apparently frustrating Google and the myriad of chat apps it seemed to be spitting out every year.
For Apple, it’s all about iMessage.
Though proprietary and only available on Apple devices, including iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Mac, that still constitutes hundreds of millions of people around the world. And a growing amount of U.S. teens.
Previously, Apple added app integrations (including the aforementioned stickers), bubble and screen effects, markup, and more to make iMessage more useful and more fun. With iOS 11, the company is adding Apple Pay.
Previously, with Apple Pay, you could tap an NFC terminal to make an in-person transaction or use Safari to make a web transaction. Now, with peer-to-peer Apple Pay, you can send and receive money right inside iMessage.
It’s clever too. You have to approve initial requests, so no one can spam you with money requests. Once you approve, if you get a request, it’s super easy to accept it with Apple Pay, right inside the iMessage timeline.
It’s also super easy to receive money. It goes into an “Apple Cash” card, which means you don’t have to pay transaction fees unless and until you want to withdraw money from it to your bank. And you can use the “Apple Cash” to make your own Apple Pay purchases in the meantime.
It’s like a low-friction transaction buffer.
I’ve had a chance to see Apple Pay in iMessage in action and it worked great. For people already in the Apple ecosystem, especially those like my friends and family who only ever use iMessage, it’s one less service to have to maintain — and one less security and privacy vector to worry about.
That’s because, like everything iMessage, it’s end-to-end encrypted and Apple has absolutely no interest in harvesting, aggregating, and profiting off our transaction data. And, frankly, that’s become just as if not more important to me than the service itself.
Apple Pay in iMessage will debut this fall in the U.S., but I hope to see it in Canada, the E.U., and more places soon.