Apple Pay Eyeing QR Code Transactions

Apple Pay users may soon be able to use a feature in the Wallet app to make payments by scanning a QR code.

AppleInsider reports the new method would no longer require near field communication (NFC), the wireless data transfer that enables nearby devices to communicate without an internet connection.

Since its launch, Apple Pay transactions at brick-and-mortar retailers relied on NFC and an iPhone near the payment terminal to make a contactless purchase. While these transactions are routine, the NFC method isn’t the only way Apple envisioned how to communicate the payments, AppleInsider reports.

A code detected in iOS 14 revealed Apple is working on an alternative method for letting users make payments with Apple Pay by scanning a QR or a traditional barcode with an iPhone camera, according to the news outlet.

When a user scans the code in-store, it instructs the Wallet app to perform the transaction with Apple Pay’s servers over its cell network.

AppleInsider reported the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted a patent Tuesday (Sept. 8) titled “Effecting payments using optical coupling,” containing evidence that Apple has considered using the technique for some time.

In the filing, Apple describes a secure transaction without direct communication of sensitive data between the user’s device and a retailer’s platform.

There are concerns that contactless payments are not supported by every payment terminal, as not all retailers have a payment terminal capable of accepting NFC communications.

While QR codes have been commonplace for years their use has faded amid tech solutions. But COVID-19 has given new purpose to it as a way to enable touchless commerce.

Walgreens accepts payments via Alipay’s platform and Walmart has modified its Walmart Pay app to process QR codes and go totally touchless post-COVID. In addition, Tencent’s WeChat Pay QR code increased by nearly 26 percent in value from the prior year despite the pandemic. PayPal introduced QR codes in May to 28 markets worldwide, with transaction fees waived for QR code sales.

The September issue of How We Shop, a PYMNTS collaboration with PayPal, explains how consumers are shifting to shopping and paying online in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The research builds on a series of studies surveying more than 16,000 consumers on how their shopping habits and payments preferences are changing as the crisis continues. It focuses on the latest survey of 2,163 respondents and examines how their increased appetite for online commerce and digital touchless methods, such as QR codes, contactless cards and digital wallets, is poised to shape the post-pandemic economy.