Apple CEO Tim Cook spoke at the White House summit on cybersecurity and personal privacy today, where he announced that Apple Pay will be available starting in September as a payment method for U.S. federal government services. To start, it’ll roll out for things like admission to national parks, with plans to also make it function with services like Social Security and veterans’ benefits.
“We’re excited to announce that beginning in September, Apple Pay will be available for many transactions with the Federal Government, like for example when you pay for admission to your favorite national park,” Cook said on stage during a ten minute presentation at the Stanford event. “We’re also working to make sure credit and procurement cards issued to government employees for their expenses can be used with Apple Pay, and we’re working on initiatives with leading banks and networks to use this technology with benefits programs like social security and veteran’s pensions that serve citizens at both the state and federal level.”
It’s a significant announcement for Apple, because it means Apple Pay starts to extend beyond the private sphere and into the real of public service. Cook also said that Apple will be working closely with the U.S. government to help make sure the transition to digital identification, including the digitization of things like passports and driver’s licenses, goes smoothly and continues to maintain the privacy of citizens.
With this move, Cook is signalling that Apple Pay could become much more than just a replacement for credit cards, and that means ‘mobile payments’ might actually be insufficient to describe the true scope of Cupertino’s plans with this initiative.