Later this year, iOS 11 users will finally be able to send peer-to-peer payments with iMessage. While Apple is going after PayPal and Square, only users with iOS devices can use iMessage, while the PayPal and Square apps are compatible with both iOS and Android devices. Banks also are offering P2P payments through their apps. Since more people are using Android smartphones as opposed to iOS smartphones, iMessenger will have a relatively small market when you consider that iOS users who want to send P2P payments may already use PayPal, Square or another service, like Venmo, and not see any reason to switch. PayPal is by far the most popular P2P platform, however, if no one in an individual’s circle of friends uses PayPal, splitting the check in a restaurant can be awkward. Apple’s new P2P payment system is limited to iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch users.
Apple’s iMessenger could be simpler. Peer-to-peer payments go through Apple Pay but they occur in iMessenger. Money moves to an Apple Pay Cash Card, which lives in Apple’s Wallet app. While slightly confusing, iMessenger is already the most popular app from Apple, so users will find the P2P payment system familiar to them. Apple users are very loyal to the brand as well.
When Apple filed for the patent for its P2P payment platform, the company indicated that they might offer users the ability to send money through emails and telephone calls as well, although there was no announcement about these features yet.
P2P payment services typically do not generate revenue for the companies that offer them, however, experts speculate that Apple may use their new offering to generate enthusiasm for the Apple Pay service, which has not been exceptionally popular.