Apple's expected reveal of a payments-capable iPhone may bring with it changes in how other mobile wallet providers handle payments.
Apple has reportedly negotiated with major card networks and issuers to deploy a mobile wallet, and industry observers say Apple's efforts could result in lower rates for any merchants who accept mobile payments.
Though Apple has not confirmed these reports, the card brands may have agreed to classify its mobile payments as card-not-present transactions (which are pricier than card-present transactions) but under a new category of "consumer present," which factors in additional authentication, said Richard Oglesby, senior analyst at Double Diamond Payments Research.
There is a precedent for creating such a classification; Visa provides an interchange reduction for card-not-present transactions for payments that use 3D Secure for added authentication, Oglesby said.
"While it's rarely used in the U.S., it does provide 'rails' that Apple could potentially ride if it had the agreement of the networks and financial institutions," Oglesby added.
Such an approach has already been suggested in Apple's patents, Oglesby noted.
Though Apple has not yet confirmed the details of its mobile wallet the company is expected to do so in a Sept. 9 product announcement the company would have little reason to talk to the card networks and banks other than to push down rates, said Merchant Warehouse CEO Henry Helgeson.
The reports of Apple's agreements with financial services companies are "very indicative that they may have finally gotten a consumer-present transaction rate," Helgeson said. "In the past, one hurdle for 800 million iTunes accounts to work in retail was that the difference on the interchange from card-present to card-not-present made it cost prohibitive."
To get such an arrangement, Apple would have had to demonstrate the strength of its security, Helgeson added. The TouchID fingerprint system introduced in last year's iPhone could play a part. "Touch the phone, and check out automatically," Helgeson said.
Apple's efforts "could benefit the other NFC wallets technology, be it Softcard or Google," by getting more merchants on board with contactless mobile payments, Helgeson said.
Whatever concessions Apple has won, they do not guarantee Apple's success in mobile payments. "It's going to take a long time for a winner to play out because there are several components and multiple concepts involved," Helgeson said.
Oglesby agrees. "It's too early to know who wins here, and there are several different ways in which the rumored deals could take form," he said. "The devil is in the details."