Apple Investigating iBeacon-Assisted Mobile Payment Methods

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Apr 12, 2001
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Apple's iBeacon technology based on the Bluetooth LE standard is being installed in Apple Stores and other retail outlets to assist customers and send them promotions while shopping, but as noted by Patently Apple, a newly published patent application suggests this technology could also be used to send secure mobile payments while making purchases.

Patent application number 20140019367, filed in September 2012 and published today, describes a method that would send payment data through various wireless interfaces without compromising the user's data. The method uses two links -- one connection to a point-of-sale device to establish the initial connection and a second, secure connection that sends the payment information. This payment information is then processed by a backend server, which uses a shared secret to verify that the connection was secure before it authorizes the payment.
In one or more embodiments, a method of performing a commercial transaction is provided. The method includes establishing a first secure link over a first air interface by a purchasing device, the first secure link between the purchasing device and a point of sale device, identifying a second air interface different from the first air interface, establishing a second secure link over a second air interface, the second secure link between the purchasing device and a backend server, and conducting, using the second air interface, a secure commercial transaction between the purchasing device and the backend server using payment data secured by a shared secret known to a secure element in the purchasing device and to the backend server.
The payment method described in the patent may use NFC as well as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to connect the mobile device to the point-of-sale terminal. Though iBeacon is not directly named in the patent, it is easy to see how the technology could be used as the conduit for the secure Bluetooth connection. Apple even notes in the patent that NFC "is less desirable for longer transactions," while Wi-Fi or Bluetooth has "more desirable characteristics for maintaining the link over time than NFC."

The use of Apple's iBeacon technology, rolled out alongside iOS 7, is expected to increase over the coming year as other retailers such as Macy's have begun piloting the Bluetooth LE technology. Most recently, the Consumer Electronics Association used iBeacons for a scavenger hunt at CES 2014, while Major League Baseball will be bringing the technology to stadiums.

Article Link: Apple Investigating iBeacon-Assisted Mobile Payment Methods
 

Menel

macrumors 603
Aug 4, 2011
6,199
1,047
This seems better than NFC implementation. Is that just me?
Better yes.

In either case, I'm not sure I trust retailers to implement securely. :/

Starbucks, Neiman, Target, huge numbers of banks all flubbing up.
 

Matthew Yohe

macrumors 68020
Oct 12, 2006
2,198
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Not sure that this would be related at all to iBeacon. iBeacon is one direction of transmission, from the beacon outward to devices listening for an iBeacon packet. It's not meant for establishing a "link" between devices or as a replacement for NFC, rather simply alerting nearby devices of its presence.
 

Menel

macrumors 603
Aug 4, 2011
6,199
1,047
Not sure that this would be related at all to iBeacon. iBeacon is one direction of transmission, from the beacon outward to devices listening for an iBeacon packet. It's not meant for establishing a "link" between devices or as a replacement for NFC, rather simply alerting nearby devices of its presence.
It can be used to initiate apps.

See Paypal's handsfree payment.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g8h_i8qv1FY

iBeacon triggers paypal app, reports to paypal you have authenticated and are near x iBeacon. It sends your details to the POS system at that location so the retailer can recognize you. Or some such activity.
 

cmChimera

macrumors 68040
Feb 12, 2010
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Better yes.

In either case, I'm not sure I trust retailers to implement securely. :/

Starbucks, Neiman, Target, huge numbers of banks all flubbing up.
Considering Starbucks just admitted to storing unencrypted customer data, and Target's Black Friday fiasco, your concern is extremely valid.
 

jclardy

macrumors 68040
Oct 6, 2008
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This could be big for drive through mobile payments and for people using iPad's as payment kiosks. NFC is fine if you are a huge retailer and can install a card reader terminal/nfc reader at every register, but many small businesses are using iPads along with Square/Paypal/etc. I've even been to a local barbershop that used a service specific to hairstylists as it recorded client data in their app as well (Hairstyle data...not CC info.)

These places could easily have a software layer added to do this without purchasing extra hardware required for NFC.

And for drive-thru payments you no longer have to dangle your phone out the window to scan a barcode (Like at starbucks) or hand it to a cashier, you just open the "Payment" app and confirm your purchase.
 

theonekcrow

macrumors 6502a
Jul 12, 2009
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Indiana
Maybe this in combo with Passbook and Touch ID will be Apple's mobile payments answer. It sounds like a more secure implementation than NFC. Maybe a future iOS 8 or 9 feature...
 

2457282

Suspended
Dec 6, 2012
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Has anyone tried the ibeacons at an Apple Store? I was at a store about two weeks ago, but had bluetooth turned off so did not experience it. I am interested to see how this is working in the wild even before the payment issue shows up.
 

gnasher729

macrumors P6
Nov 25, 2005
16,504
3,099
Please. Bluetooth LE (low energy) is not iBeacon.

iBeacon is just that: A beacon which sends out its id and two fixed numbers to anyone willing to listen. It cannot receive anything. It cannot process mobile payments. It cannot send anything other than the id and two fixed numbers.
 

Klae17

macrumors 65816
Jul 15, 2011
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1,079
Why are they investigating? Did someone steal a iBeacon prototype at a bar?
 

bkar89

macrumors regular
Jul 27, 2012
130
0
Norway
On the phone maybe; here in UK you are no longer able to get a bank card from any major bank without NFC built in.
Of course. This was phone related. NFC in mobiles brought forth alot of "futuristic" ideas about a phone + wallet solution. That never kicked off. Which is too bad, really.

Here in Norway, most card terminals support NFC. But all the major card holders is still sticking to the not so old chip solution. Atleast that magnet stripe is completley phased out. Cards that does not require a PIN, however is in most cases NFC.

So for passive devices, there is life for NFC.

Then again, multiple standards is rare. So my swift conclusion on iBeacons succes, is probably wrong.
 

winston1236

macrumors 68000
Dec 13, 2010
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Not sure that this would be related at all to iBeacon. iBeacon is one direction of transmission, from the beacon outward to devices listening for an iBeacon packet. It's not meant for establishing a "link" between devices or as a replacement for NFC, rather simply alerting nearby devices of its presence.
Exactly, this more like a copy of Samsung's "Group Play" where you can broadcast your screen onto select devices around you. Great for a work environment.

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On the phone maybe; here in UK you are no longer able to get a bank card from any major bank without NFC built in.
Well the UK is a lot more forward thinking than the Americans.
 

peterh988

macrumors 6502a
Jun 5, 2011
595
985
Maybe this in combo with Passbook and Touch ID will be Apple's mobile payments answer. It sounds like a more secure implementation than NFC. Maybe a future iOS 8 or 9 feature...
Yep, I'm convinced that at some future Apple event, Tim will be saying "In conjunction with Mastercard and Visa....." and announcing some new payment system, more than likely made up of elements of Passbook, iBeacons and TouchID.

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On the phone maybe; here in UK you are no longer able to get a bank card from any major bank without NFC built in.
Have you ever used it though? I've had an NFC credit card for years, the only place I've seen advertising they accept payment that way is McDonalds drive-thru. I'm sure others exist, but no-one seems to be pushing it. Result is I've never used the NFC ability. I have used Passbook twice today though.
 

Aniseedvan

macrumors 65816
May 14, 2012
1,099
212
UK
Yep, I'm convinced that at some future Apple event, Tim will be saying "In conjunction with Mastercard and Visa....." and announcing some new payment system, more than likely made up of elements of Passbook, iBeacons and TouchID.

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Have you ever used it though? I've had an NFC credit card for years, the only place I've seen advertising they accept payment that way is McDonalds drive-thru. I'm sure others exist, but no-one seems to be pushing it. Result is I've never used the NFC ability. I have used Passbook twice today though.
If this is Contactless, then yes, I use it at Waitrose all the time - disorganised most weeks to have done all my shopping and need to pop in for top up stuff, less than £20..
 

Matthew Yohe

macrumors 68020
Oct 12, 2006
2,198
129
It can be used to initiate apps.

See Paypal's handsfree payment.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g8h_i8qv1FY

iBeacon triggers paypal app, reports to paypal you have authenticated and are near x iBeacon. It sends your details to the POS system at that location so the retailer can recognize you. Or some such activity.
Yup! But this article and patent isn't about what you've shown, or what I was talking about.
 

ItWasNotMe

macrumors 6502
Dec 1, 2012
279
83
Yep, I'm convinced that at some future Apple event, Tim will be saying "In conjunction with Mastercard and Visa....." and announcing some new payment system, more than likely made up of elements of Passbook, iBeacons and TouchID.

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Have you ever used it though? I've had an NFC credit card for years, the only place I've seen advertising they accept payment that way is McDonalds drive-thru. I'm sure others exist, but no-one seems to be pushing it. Result is I've never used the NFC ability. I have used Passbook twice today though.
In UK its available for use in almost (all?) major stores/coffee chains etc.

Never used it, don't want to use it. Every bank I have asked has refused to issue card without it.

IMHO, a pain. Several times I've attempted to use credit card with chip to make payment and been refused because retailers terminal is also seeing NFC on a different card in my wallet. This has strayed too close to reader, amount is greater than you are 'allowed' to make using NFC and its got 'confused':(

See any number of stories about retailers terminal reading NFC at far longer distances that the 3-6cm in the story.
 

kemal

macrumors 65816
Dec 21, 2001
1,484
1,537
Nebraska
Anything to avoid having to make an NFC antenna work with their aluminum phones.

Square works so well for me I can't imagine what else is needed. That is, until Square gets seriously hacked.