Apple Pay Coming to Mobile Websites Before Holiday Shopping Season

Apple Pay is finally ready to move beyond apps.

Apple has been telling potential partners that its payment service, which lets shoppers complete a purchase on mobile apps with their fingerprint rather than by entering credit card details, is expanding to websites later this year, multiple sources told Re/code.

The service will be available to shoppers using the Safari browser on models of iPhones and iPads that possess Apple's TouchID fingerprint technology, these people said. Apple has also considered making the service available on Apple laptops and desktops, too, though it's not clear if the company will launch that capability.

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Sources say that Apple is telling potential partners that the Apple Pay expansion to mobile websites will be ready before this year's holiday shopping season. An announcement could come at WWDC, Apple's conference for software developers, which typically takes place in June, though sources cautioned that the timing of an announcement could change.

The Apple Pay logo is displayed in a mobile kiosk sponsored by Visa and Wells Fargo to demonstrate the new Apple Pay mobile payment system.
Getty Images
The Apple Pay logo is displayed in a mobile kiosk sponsored by Visa and Wells Fargo to demonstrate the new Apple Pay mobile payment system.

An Apple spokesperson declined to comment.

The move would pit Apple more directly against PayPal, which is a popular alternative payment method on countless retail websites. PayPal offers a mobile payment product for websites and apps called One Touch, which is used by more than 250 of the top 500 online retailers. But Apple Pay is still a quicker and cleaner express-checkout option for iPhone users and can now compete with PayPal on more checkout pages.

PayPal also owns payment processing company Braintree, which handles the back end of some Apple Pay purchases in apps today. But PayPal typically makes more money when a shopper chooses to pay with the PayPal wallet than with Apple Pay.

A PayPal spokesperson declined to comment.

While more than half of online retail purchases still happen on desktop and laptop computers, purchases made on mobile devices like phones and tablets are growing fast. Apple Pay initially launched as an option for iOS mobile apps, in part because Apple has control over that ecosystem.

The pitch to retailers and e-commerce sites was straightforward: Apple Pay will help you convert more mobile visitors into purchasers. Apple's fingerprint sensor eliminates the need to enter payment and shipping information, which can be a cumbersome task on small devices and cause shoppers to end a shopping session without completing a purchase.

Apple's pitch for the mobile website expansion is similar, only the opportunity could be bigger based on current consumer shopping habits. Retailers saw in aggregate nearly 9.8 billion visits to their mobile websites during last year's holiday season, compared to 8.1 billion through mobile apps, according to comScore.

Apple Pay launched in late 2014 with two use cases. The one that got a lot of attention was for in-store shopping, which allows owners of newer model iPhones to tap and pay with their phone in retail stores that accept mobile payments.

The other use case — using Apple Pay for in-app purchases — has received less press, but is seen by many industry insiders as actually solving a problem for both consumers and businesses: Helping to make completing a purchase easier on mobile phones, while increasing the checkout conversion rates for retailers.

Apple Pay users add their credit card or debit card information to the service to use it, but that information is not stored on their iPhone or iPad or passed along to retailers. Rather, the device stores a unique placeholder number, which is only matched up with actual payment card information once it has been passed on to the shopper's credit card company or bank.

By Jason Del Ray, Re/code.net.

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