In total, the USPO issued 82 patents for payments-related inventions and processes in January 2013, up from 56 in January 2012 — 46% growth, according to Bank Innovation research. In all, 602 payments patents were awarded in 2012.
Apple’s patent, granted just last week, would allow a user to confirm a mobile payment by waving or swiping a smartphone. For instance, a user might wave an iPhone up and down to confirm a payment or from side to side to deny it, or just swipe a screen. The patent is called “Motion based payment confirmation.” Specifically, the patent allows a device to do the following:
[C]onfirm payments for various types of monetary transactions including, but not limited to, purchasing goods or services from an online or brick and mortar store, paying for goods or services received in person but outside of a store (such as paying for a pizza delivery order), exchanging money between peers, and exchanging or returning previous purchases…
For example, a user may access an electronic wallet or payment service, such as Google Checkout or PayPal, through the electronic device 10 to display available payment options. The electronic wallet or payment service may store financial account information for payment instruments, such as credit cards, debit cards, pre-paid or gift cards, checking accounts, and/or savings accounts, that may be presented to a user through the electronic device 10 upon accessing the electronic wallet or payment service.
“Electronic device 10″ is an iPhone-looking device featured in some technical illustrations, so this patent will allow iPhone and iPod Touches to play with other digital wallet products, and perhaps expands the capabilities of Passbook, which goes unmentioned. And here’s the kicker: “The electronic device 10 also may communicate with other devices using short-range connections, such as Bluetooth and near field communication.”
Apple and NFC, together at last!
Meanwhile, Amazon’s new payments patent is called “System and method of fulfilling a transaction.” In its simplest form, this means that a user can load several cards or payment methods into the shopping cart of checkout system and define a sequence in which they should be tried. If Card A is denied, the system tries Card B. This is another way of making still smoother and more seamless the slick Amazon shopping experience. But the mobile wallet possibilities in this patent are also apparent, and not only because the term “wallet” occurs 111 times in the patent description.
The caption for the sixth illustration reads, “FIG. 6 is a diagram of a particular embodiment of a graphical user interface to create an electronic wallet.”
So we’ve got Apple looking at NFC and Amazon looking at a digital wallet. Just another day at the patent office.