Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) could turn its attention to mobile payments over the next year or two, according to well-known Piper Jaffray analyst and Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) guru Gene Munster. The tech giant won a patent for a digital wallet using Near Field Communication (NFC) last year.
According to Munster, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) may use technology “other than or in addition to NFC” when building its mobile payments system. He also believes that it may be a bit early to expect an iOS payment option right now, so we may not see it until the iPhone 6 comes out next year.
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Munster said at this point they don’t know just how big of a financial opportunity mobile payments would be for Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), but he believes that “if Apple can recreate the wallet, it would create tremendous stickiness” for its products.
In Munster’s estimation, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) may already have the backbone of a payments system. He believes Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s 500 million active iTunes accounts with linked credit cards may be the biggest payment database of any company in the world. And by using those accounts to solve the problems of waiting in lines, not being able to keep track of receipts and keeping customers loyal, Apple may see a major opportunity that’s not reflected directly in its bottom line, but rather in the stickiness of its products.
Of course Munster admits that even if Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) does get into mobile payments, it doesn’t mean that it will necessarily succeed. He held up the company’s entrance into mobile advertising as an example, saying that since Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) never appeared to be “fully committed” to it, the company was not as successful as many expected it to be when it announced its entrance into the space.
Munster believes that the biggest barriers to the company’s success in mobile payments are retail partnerships and security. He points out that the company already partners with a number of retail chains which carry its products and may be interested in partnering with it on mobile payments as well. In addition, he said Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s acquisition of AuthenTec could enable it to add some kind of biometric feature to its mobile payments system.
He reiterated his Overweight rating and $767 price target on the company’s stock. At the moment of this writing, shares of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) were down 1.24 percent.