December 5, 2017: Person-to-person Apple Pay and Apple Pay Cash are now available in the U.S.
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
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.
This post may contain affiliate links. See our disclosure policy for more details.