If you’re planning a trip to a national park later this year, keep your new iPhone handy. Apple Pay, the months-old but rapidly spreading mobile payments platform, will soon be accepted at national parks and become available for some financial transactions with federal agencies.
Apple CEO Tim Cook made the announcement at the White House summit on cybersecurity and consumer protection at Stanford University Friday.
For Apple, it’s the next step in its still young but formidable entry into offline purchases via smartphones that could eventually do away with plastic credit cards, at least for consumers with smartphones. Apple’s payment platform uses near-field communication technology.
More than 2,000 banks have signed on o bring Apple Pay to their customers, Cook said. The tech giant is now working with the financial industry to deploy the technology to help distribute state and federal benefit programs.
Cook said Apple Pay will also work with Social Security and veterans’ benefits cards.The expanded use of the platform at the federal level will commence in September.
In a bit of irony tied to the announcement, Apple has drawn criticism from federal law enforcement agencies for applying end-to-end encryption on consumer data via its device.
In a message on Apple’s website, Cooke states: “I want to be absolutely clear that we have never worked with any government agency from any country to create a backdoor in any of our products or services. We have also never allowed access to our servers. And we never will.”
It was no coincidence that Cooke made the announcement at a summit on cybersecurity. The Apple CEO tauted Apple Pay’s security.
“Security was part of the reason we developed the technology in the first place,” Cook said at the conference. “We can imagine a day in the not so distant future when your wallet becomes a remnant of the past.”
Cooke also spoke passionately about the importance of consumer privacy, pointing out that Apple doesn’t sell information about its customers.
“If those of us in positions of responsibility fail to do everything in our power to protect the right of privacy we risk something far more valuable than money: we risk our way of life,” Cooke said.