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Apple tipped to use iMessage for future PayPal killer feature

Apple Pay PayPal iMessage

A report from The Wall Street Journal a few days ago said that Apple is working on a person-to-person payment feature that will rival similar products from PayPal, Venmo, and others. New unconfirmed details about this upcoming Apple Pay feature have now leaked, suggesting the iPhone maker might use its popular iMessage platform to handle these peer-to-peer (P2P) payments.

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Apple already discussed the program with third-parties as the company looks to partner with banks rather than handle all the financial details, Quartz has learned. This strategy will apparently allow Apple to avoid filing for money transmitter licenses.

Sidestepping these licenses, which competitors including PayPal, Venmo, Facebook and Airbnb have, would let Apple avoid scrutiny from regulators and focus on the consumer side of the business.

People briefed on Apple’s person-to-person payments program said that iMessage might be one way to add money transfer services to iOS. Facebook is also looking to add a payments feature to its Messenger app. iMessage is a very popular Apple product, since it’s the default messaging app on iPhone. According to a survey by messaging service Jott, 60% of teens said iMessage is their preferred means of messaging.

Quartz says Apple might be interested in this Apple Pay feature for two reasons: millennials like it, and it’s a way to convert more users to Apple Pay in the future. The company has been toying with for at least a year, according to a “Senior Architect” job listing for Apple Pay dated November 2014 mentioning “money transfer.”

The Journal said Apple might not be looking to make money off P2P payments, and that Apple and banks are still discussing technical issues. It’s not clear when the feature might launch.

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he closely follows the events in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises. Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.