March 8, 2012
Apple Granted iWallet Patent
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has awarded Apple with an “iWallet” patent that could allow Apple to offer a mobile payment service, the Web site Patently Apple reported on Wednesday.
“Today, Apple has been granted a major iWallet 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,” the report read.
Among other things, the patent would allow credit card companies to send customers their statements through iTunes. Other customization options are included, such as parental controls, in which a parent could set up a prepaid subsidiary account for their child. An employer could also use this capability to create rules for an employee's handset-based payment account.
Restrictions could be created, for example, based on a certain location, time period, or other specific categories or combinations. If someone tried to violate these rules, certain actions would follow, such as "automatically declining the subsidiary transaction, notifying the primary account holder of the transaction, as well as requiring or requesting authorization from the primary account holder before the subsidiary transaction is approved," Patently Apple said.
Images included in the patent application show an iPhone screen for "Card Profile,” under which users could select their credit card, create billing alerts, add or delete who they want to have access to the account and set spending limits.
If a minor is attached to the account, users could, for example, specify that purchases at certain retailers are OK, while purchases from others require consent from the primary account holder. Parents could also restrict purchases of alcohol or tobacco, or cut their kids off from using the card once a certain spending limit is reached.
In iTunes, iWallet appears in the left-hand bar under "Services.” From there, users can access Card Profiles, Purchases, Summary, Preferences, and Messages.
Apple's first iWallet patent appeared in May 2010, the same year that near-field communication (NFC) technology hit the market, Patently Apple said. However, NFC never received widespread traction due, in part, to security concerns and the fact that it has not been used on a large number of phones.
Apple credits Brandon Casey, Gary Wipfler and Erik Cressall as the inventors of the patent, which was originally filed in 2009 and is supported by 23 Patent Claims.
On the Net:
- The entire text of the patent, along with its associated images, can be viewed here
- U.S. Patent and Trademark Office