Apple users in the US have been given a new option for making peer-to-peer payments through their phones, after the tech giant launched a public beta of its new Apple Pay Cash option.
The tool will allow users who have opted in to send and receive money directly via the Messages app and links to payment cards that have been registered with Apple Pay. Transactions sent from debit cards will not incur any fees, while an ‘industry standard’ fee will apply for credit card payments.
Users sending money to their friends and family via the app will see a new Apple Pay button within Messages that they can tap to initiate a payment. Transactions can also be initiated simply by making a request within a message, which users can then tap on to confirm payment.
When receiving a payment for the first time, a user opts in to accept it and is then issued a virtual Apple Pay Cash card. While this means that users will be restricted to only sending and receiving funds within the Apple Pay ecosystem, so it is not a fully-functional virtual payment card, one key advantage of this is that it enables Apple to add funds to the card instantly.
This means users paid via Apple Pay Cash will be able to use these funds straight away, provided they are making payments to another Apple Pay Cash user or a retailer that accepts this form of payment.
Apple may well be hoping that this instant availability of funds will help it stand out in what is an increasingly crowded mobile P2P payments market, where competitors such as Zelle, Venmo and Square Cash are well established, and many have cross-platform capabilities that Apple Pay Cash lacks.