As reported in PatentlyApple, "Apple has received a major Granted Patent that generally relates to establishing financial transaction rules for controlling a subsidiary financial account and, more particularly, to various systems, methods, and electronic devices configured to provide for the establishment of such rules." Sounds pretty broad. What does it mean?
It means that Apple will be able to link mobile purchases to your iTunes account. It means that one will be able to administer complex, rule based account management between your iTunes account and linked financial accounts. It means that parents and companies can limit the use of the electronic payment devices of their charges in vey supple ways. In short, it gives Apple dominion over a very robust set of hierarchical, identity-based account management techniques whose applications are legion.
You know how gnarly it is to figure out the provenance of media between different Apple IDs in your household? The technology behind this patent could help solve that problem for users, as well.
Assuming that Apple has figured out the security aspect of Near Field Communication (NFC) better than Google has with their Wallet, there is every reason to assume that they will come up with a better user implementation for mobile payments than their competitors and (unlike a wildcard startup) they have the user base to roll it out at scale very quickly. If I were Intuit or Square, I would be worried.
Google, by the way, better have those security issues nailed since Reuters reported last night that, "Google Inc has been pressuring applications and mobile game developers to use its costlier in-house payment service, Google Wallet, as the Internet search giant tries to emulate the financial success of Apple Inc's iOS platform." Good luck with that. The Android Market, now rechristened Google Play, has served as a wild west free-or-all in comparison to airlock of the AppStore, and that has probably been a good thing. It is amazing, though, how hard it has been for Google to monetize hugeness beyond search adds.
As with anything mobile, the combination of the quality of user experience and convenience trumps all else. I agree with Forbes.com Great Speculations contributor Nigam Arora that "If past is the prologue, Apple will implement electronic wallet better than existing players and Apple stock will rocket to $1000. The power to propel Apple stock much higher is likely to come from a new development that is not discounted in the price of the stock. iWallet may be the app that does it." Killer app, indeed.
Anthony Wing Kosner is a contributor to Forbes.com, where he explores the art and science of producing and consuming content.