Apple Inc.'s iWallet is much anticipated but, due to Apple's notorious secrecy, still very hard to picture. A new patent lends some slight clarity to the company's mobile-payment vision.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office revealed 56 newly approved patents for Apple Inc. on Aug. 28, the most prominent being a patent for technology that acts as a virtual payment card, according to a report on Patently Apple, which collects and summarizes the Cupertino, Calif., company's various tech patents.

The new patents make Apple a more fearsome foe in mobile payments, particularly as the company has just scored a prominent win in a patent suit against rival Samsung.

The virtual-card patent describes an application for interfaces "configured to receive motion-based inputs for confirming a payment transaction," the site says.

The patent background information Apple provided explains how mobile payment technology allows payments to be completed without the use of a physical payment card or cash.

Apple's description says the company can address shortcomings in mobile payments with the design of an application that calls for "one or more graphic elements" that users must interact with to confirm a payment by swiping a finger in one direction or deny a payment by swiping in a different direction. The graphics could be set up to imitate the swipe of a card, Patently Apple reports.

Consumers could use the virtual card-swipe graphic in person-to-person, online or brick-and-mortar store payments.

Based on previous patents, the iWallet is likely being designed to work with Near Field Communication, a bar code or camera to finalize a payment, the site reports.

Just a few weeks ago, the patent office granted Apple several new patents related to the iWallet or its card-case app, Passbook. 

Many in the payments industry are watching Apple's moves, but they disagree over whether Apple will use NFC chips for payments or go with a completely different design.

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