An Apple Inc. job posting seeking a software engineer with expertise in payments may be an indicator of an Apple play in payments beyond its current efforts. Or, it may not.
The computer and retail giant is looking for a senior software engineer to “help build a next generation payment platform that will push the boundaries in new markets for Apple Retail.”
Among the areas of expertise Apple is looking for in candidates is experience in chip-and-PIN technologies, PCI compliance and card security, card-industry knowledge, e-commerce, banking or retail experience, cryptography, and country-specific payment schemes.
“You will also be responsible for integrating payment devices, middleware and acquirers into our retail solution,” the posting states. “You will be working with business partners, store personnel, banking partners and cross-functional teams within Apple to develop software, controls and processes for payment processing.”
What that means and why Apple is pursuing that course are unknowns. The company’s Cupertino, Calif., offices are closed this week. A message left for a spokesperson was not returned.
What it probably does not mean is an extension of Apple’s payment systems for other retailers in the manner of Amazon.com, says Adil Moussa, principal of payments-consulting firm Adil Consulting. “All they’re interested in is pushing their own solutions,” Moussa says. “I don’t see them making a solution available for other retailers.”
What may be in development, though, is a mobile wallet that could tie into the 575 million iTunes accounts Apple has on file. “If they can make a solution unique to Apple, it will definitely sink more teeth into their existing customers by making more things possible and available through your iPhone,” Moussa says.
Earlier this year, Apple introduced iBeacon, a variant of Bluetooth technology that’s part of the iOS 7 mobile operating system and can deliver in-store offers to iPhones and potentially be adapted for payments. Transmitters placed inside a store could locate a consumer’s iPhone and present offers as the shopper nears a location, or provide directions to a specific area of the store.
News site 9to5Mac.com, which tracks Apple news, notes that iBeacon may play a role in an Apple payments platform, and perhaps compete against other technologies, such as near-field communications. NFC uses two-way device communication to transmit and receive payments and offers via NFC-compatible smart phones, and is being championed by Isis, a mobile wallet, and Google Inc.
PayPal, the payments arm of eBay Inc., also is developing a beacon-based mobile commerce system called PayPal Beacon. It, too, relies on Bluetooth technology to locate shoppers inside stores. They also will be able to pay for merchandise.