The "Year of Apple Pay" continues - Newest player? Uncle Sam

Credit: U.S. Geological Survey Department of the Interior/USGS U.S. Geological Survey/photo by Toni smith

Credit: U.S. Geological Survey
Department of the Interior/USGS
U.S. Geological Survey/photo by Toni smith

No sooner had the post about Apple Pay negotiations going on between Apple and several banks in Brazil gone live than we received more Apple Pay news. The United States federal government today announced that it will support Apple Pay with its own payment cards and that Uncle Sam is going to start accepting Apple Pay for various purchases.

Among the agencies to accept Apple Pay will be the National Park Service, the United States Postal Service, the Kennedy Space Center (tours and gift shops, rocket rides not included), the Smithsonian Institution museums, and US Customs and Border Protection.

Apple is also working with Visa, MasterCard, Comerica Bank and US Bank to make Apple Pay available for federal payment cards such as DirectExpress and GSA SmartPay cards. This would allow federal employees to use those cards -- in a tokenized, encrypted Apple Pay format -- for purchases as mundane as buying gas for a fleet car.

The word about the feds getting into the Apple Pay game came from none other than Apple CEO Tim Cook, who spoke today as part of the White House Summit on Cybersecurity and Consumer Protection just up the road from Cupertino at Stanford University. Cook sees Apple's secure payment environment as the first step in a much bigger electronic wallet:

We can imagine a day in the not so distant future when your wallet becomes a remnant of the past. Your passport, your driver’s license and other important documents can be stored in a way that’s safe, secure and easy to access, but only by you.
— http://recode.net/2015/02/13/apple-pay-coming-soon-to-government-operated-services/

Our take on the news: It's about time the federal government did something smart like this instead of being years behind the electronic payment trend. It would be much more impressive if the Internal Revenue Service allowed tax payments through Apple Pay and a proprietary app instead of having to pay through expensive services such as Official Payments