Apple WWDC 2015: Apple Pay gets stronger amid Passbook change to 'Wallet'

UPDATED: Apple offered a blink-and-you-miss-it peek at ​a new collaboration with Square with the goal of getting more small businesses onboard.


SAN FRANCISCO---Apple Pay is filling out to be a much fatter digital wallet with promised support for retail store cards, an international expansion plan and a new moniker.

The iPhone maker is weaving a bunch of loose threads together, culminating in the shift and name change for the old Passbook app to simply "Wallet."

"We have been hard at work at our goal of replacing the wallet," remarked Jennifer Bailey, vice president of Apple Pay, during the WWDC 2015 opening keynote on Monday.

Apple Pay was officially unveiled last September as the iPhone maker's long-awaited entry into the burgeoning mobile payments market. The NFC-powered method came baked in with iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus for contactless payments.

Starting with a base of 220,000 merchants, Apple Pay quickly grew traction, expanding its presence to more than 700,000 locations nationwide by March 2015.

Amid those merchants included retail stalwarts Walgreens, Macy's and Bloomingdale's as well as fast food franchises McDonalds and Panera Bread. Coca Cola had also committed at the time to integrate Apple Pay into 100,000 vending machines.

By the spring, Apple Pay had more than 2,500 banks supporting it -- on top of all major credit cards (Visa, MasterCard and American Express).

Bailey reiterated that spring bank tally, adding Discover will also be added into the mix this fall.


Apple Pay support is going even farther with extra room for retail store cards.

Kohl's, JC Penney's and BJ's Wholesale Club will be amid the first to offer their retail cards with the iOS 9 rollout along with rewards cards for Wegmans grocery stores and Dunkin Donuts, amid others.

All of these cards will also be accessible with the Apple Watch version of the Wallet app.

Nevertheless, not all analysts and critics (not to mention consumers and merchants) have tapped into Apple Pay fervor just yet.

For example, a recent report from the National Retail Federation calls into question whether or not Apple will achieve its goal of getting half of the top U.S. merchants to accept Apple Pay by the end of the year.

Regardless, Bailey said Apple projects to have Apple Pay at one million locations nationwide by next month.

July is shaping up to be a busy time for the Apple Pay department as the service will make its international debut in the United Kingdom then as well.

With an estimated 250,000 locations scheduled to be ready for launch time, Apple also promised Apple Pay will work with "nearly 70 percent" of credit and debit cards in the U.K. as well.

iPhone users will also be able to pay for London Transport with Apple Pay.

This fall, Apple offered a blink-and-you-miss-it peek at a new collaboration with Square with the goal of getting more small businesses onboard.

With the new Square NFC reader, Apple Pay users will be able to tap to pay as normal thanks to NFC technology support or "dip the chip" for EMV-equipped cards.

"We built our new reader so every business in the neighborhood could accept Apple Pay and chip cards--because we believe everyone deserves faster, more secure transactions," according to Square.

A new Square card reader will be sold in Apple retail stores later this year. A ship date hasn't been revealed, but the application window is open now.

First requests for the contactless and chip reader model along with a companion point-of-sale app for merchants will be free. Square will also thrown in a free magstripe reader for swiping credit and debit cards the "old-fashioned way."


Screenshots via Apple