Person-to-Person Apple Pay has made iMessage even more valuable

December 5, 2017: Person-to-person Apple Pay and Apple Pay Cash are now available in the U.S.

From Apple (opens in new tab):

iOS 11.2 is available now as a free update and is required to make person to person payments and use Apple Pay Cash on iPhone and iPad. Customers who have already updated to iOS 11.2 can simply restart their devices to begin sending and receiving money with friends and family and using Apple Pay Cash. watchOS 4.2 will be available as a free update and is required to send and receive money and use Apple Pay Cash on any Apple Watch model.

According to Apple, Person-to-person Apple Pay is completely free to send with a debit card or Apple Pay Cash, but charges an "industry standard" 3% fee to use a credit card.

The limits are pretty high too, according to Apple (opens in new tab)

December 2, 2017: iOS 11.2 is out early but Apple Pay is still only launching next week

Apple pushed out the release version of iOS 11.2 early to fix a critical software bug. While the client-side code for person-to-person Apple Pay is included in the update, the service itself won't be launching until early next week.

Though proprietary and only available on Apple devices, including iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Mac, that still encompasses hundreds of millions of people around the world ‚ including a growing amount of U.S. teens.

Messaging has become a primary interface and platform layer in its own right. There's no telling how long that will last — if it's here to stay or if it's part of a larger transition towards multi-input "assistants" — but today it's used by people around the world not just for text chat but for an ever-increasing number of important transactions. Those range from things as emotionally valuable as emoji and stickers that share our feelings with friends, colleagues, and loved ones, to online orders and payments that get us food, rides, and more.

It's what's made WeChat an inextricable part of life in China, and what led Facebook to pushing Messenger, buying WhatsApp, expanding Instagram, and doing everything it can to shove communications into its attention harvesters. It's also what's apparently frustrating Google and the myriad of chat apps that company was spitting out for a while.

For Apple, it's all about iMessage.

Last year, Apple added app integrations (including the aforementioned stickers), bubble and screen effects, markup, and more to make iMessage more useful and more fun. With iOS 11, the company is adding Apple Pay.

Previously, with Apple Pay, you could tap an NFC terminal to make an in-person transaction or use Safari to make a web purchase. Now, with person-to-person Apple Pay, you can send and receive money directly from and to iMessage.

The implementation is clever: You have to approve initial requests, so no one can spam you with demands for money. Once you do approve a contact, if you get a request, it's super easy to accept it with Apple Pay right inside the iMessage timeline.

Sending money is also breeze. You simply tap it out in iMessage or tell Siri, Apple's intelligent voice assistant, who you want to send money to and how much.

If and when you receive money, it goes into an "Apple Pay Cash" card where you can quickly and easily buffer funds until you decide to make purchases or withdraw the to a traditional account.

I've had a chance to see Apple Pay in iMessage in action and it worked remarkably well. For people already in the Apple ecosystem, especially those like my friends and family who only ever use iMessage, it'll be all but effortless to start using. Better still, it's one less service to have to maintain — and one less security and privacy vector to worry about.

That's because, like everything iMessage, person-to-person Apple Pay is end-to-end encrypted and Apple has absolutely no interest in harvesting, aggregating, and profiting off your transaction data. Who you get money from and who you send money to is your business, not some massive online social search company's. And, frankly, that's become just as if not more important to me than the service itself.

Apple Pay in iMessage will debut this fall in the U.S., but I hope to see it in Canada, the E.U., and everywhere else soon.

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

  • Had my wife request $1. Easy to reply and complete transaction..
  • Wooot!!! Can’t wait!
  • So no person to person pay to an android recipient? Not everyone in my circle has iPhones ......
  • Check with your bank’s app. It may be possible to do the same through it.
  • In the UK there's a form of payment using a mobile number that works across banks. Don't know if there's anything where you are, but that's what you're looking for.
  • Seems Venmo, PayPal and others will have a slice for some time.
  • I guess I'm not getting it. When I send my son some money, how does he spend it? With PayPal, he can transfer it to his bank account and go about his day.
  • Its put on an Apple Pay card that he can use at Apple Pay terminals or transfer it.
  • Sounds very interesting
  • Rene, How does this work if someone only has a credit card linked to their Apple account; not a debit card or a bank card or PayPal or a bank account? Can funds be sent to a contact from the user's credit card? Can funds be transferred from the Apple Cash account to the credit card? If funds received can't be transferred to a credit card, can users request an Apple Cash plastic debit card to spend the funds in the real world?
  • @Keith44
    According to Apple Support page, its free if a debit card is used, but charges a 3% fee if a credit card is used. Of course this charge is applied from the CC company and not Apple directly.
  • IOS11 has to easily be one of (if not the most) buggy OS versions in recent memory. Glad to see an update, but the bugs that are getting through the cracks are worrying for apple's QC...
  • Indeed, albeit I'm sure some people are getting fired between the macOS security blunder and the iOS bugs
  • As they should be. Especially the MacOS bugs.
  • Wish I could knew the real reason that's holding Apple to launch Apple Pay here in Brazil. Perhaps our banks haven't come to an agreement on this matter? Security?
    It'd be so **** good to be able to use it. Looking forward to the day it'll finally arrive by these lands.
  • "With Apple Pay Cash, iMessage is now a payment platform" no it is not until you can do it through Android too. Until then, it's only a way to send iOS people money.
  • Apple don't really develop for outside their ecosystem, so that's very unlikely to happen. Apple Music was an exception due to the amount of money they knew they could make off it
  • I'm intrigued to know how much revenue the Android Apple Music app brings in. It's got 10 million downloads according to the Play Store, but then Amazon Music and Spotify both have over 10x that amount. I doubt a huge proportion of those who have downloaded it pay to subscribe still.
  • Many Android users are very wary of Apple products/services, so they will most likely go to Amazon Music or Spotify first and if they are happy with either one of those services, they'll stick with it. I imagine that Android users that tried the 3 month Apple Music trial and liked the service (including the UI to navigate) and thought the price was worth it, then they would've stuck with it. The thing with music services is they all pretty much offer the same thing, just possibly at different prices with different UIs, you're either going for the cheapest or the first one you find that you like, and like I said Android users are more likely to go to Amazon Music/Spotify first rather than Apple's offering
  • Until it can go cross platform, I don't see this supplanting Venmo. Venmo is easy to set up and more established and most importantly, I can send money to an Android user without issue.
  • It's more just to provide a "just works" system inside the Apple ecosystem, similar to iMessage. With iMessage, you don't have to really set anything up, just message someone with an iPhone and it sends as an iMessage. This is how Apple Pay works, you'd just select your friend with an iPhone and it would work with no need to download external apps. I can't assure that everyone has Venmo the same way that I can't assure everyone has WhatsApp