Apple has been granted a patent for setting parental controls on mobile payment apps.
Apple's patent shows an 'E-Wallet' app on an iPhone Image credit: USPTO
The US Patent and Trademark Office published the approved patent
on Tuesday, adding fuel to rumours that Apple plans to launch a mobile payment service.
According to the patent's description, "the financial transaction rules may be based upon transaction amounts, aggregate spending amounts over a period, merchant categories, specific merchants, geographic locations, or the like".
The patent is titled "Parental controls", and its text largely describes a scenario where a parent sets up a prepaid subsidiary account for their child. However, it also notes that the functionality could be used by an employer who wants to set rules for an employee's handset-based payment account.
Pictures in the patent show an application called E-Wallet, although many commentators have pointed out that any Apple mobile payment service is more likely to start with the standard 'i'.
"Apple's patent reviews credit card transaction rules and shows us that the credit card companies will be sending statements directly to your iTunes account," PatentlyApple noted. "The iWallet project just became a little more real today."
There have been reports for more than a year suggesting that Apple was about to launch a mobile payments system using near-field communication (NFC) technology, but it has not yet come to pass.
The company is set to launch a new iPad later on Wednesday, and it remains to be seen whether that will incorporate NFC or not.