All the major players are now in on the person-to-person payments apps, the latest being Apple and their Apple Pay Cash. This feature allows you to send money to friends, family, enemies – whoever you are inclined to send cash to on a given day. Notice that it is a feature, not an app. The reason is you can use it if you have iMessage.
Here are some of the basics you need to know before taking the plunge. It is currently in a Beta stage, meaning there may be bugs or issues that have not yet been discovered. So it has not reached the level of 100% reliability. You will need to opt in to the iOS Public Beta program and have the iOS 11.2 Beta 2 installed on your device. The beta release is available only to users in the United States who have two-factor authentication activated.
Here is the list of Apple-approved supported devices that can use Apple Pay Cash:
- iPhone SE
- iPhone 6 and later
- iPad 5 gen
- iPad Air 2
- iPad Pro
- iPad Mini 3 and later
- All Apple Watches
Once you have installed the Beta framework, you can begin to use Apple Pay Cash. You will need at least one debit or credit card listed on your Apple Pay list. Debit cards can be used free of fees, while using a credit card will cost you 3 percent of the amount you are sending. You can also make bank transfers to your own bank, but they will not be immediately transferred or available. It’s not a full featured feature, as it is limited to sending cash or to buy products and services available on Apple Pay. Keep in mind it is currently in the Beta process, so when things are finalized you should expect Apple to expand its use. From that perspective, Apple is working with the well-known Green Dot financial service to handle the financial transactions.
One notable quirk: the first time someone sends you money via Apple Pay Cash you have 7 days to accept it.
Every transaction you conduct using Apple Pay Cash will be stored and be available for review. That means if you want to use it to pay your rent, buy textbooks for school, or any other transaction you conduct for legal or tax purposes, you will have a verifiable record. However, it does have the limitation of not being able to add memo information to a transaction. And you must be 18 years old or older to use Apple Pay Cash.
There is a fair amount of flexibility that comes with the feature. You can choose to automatically accept payment or not; you can add money to the Apple Pay Cash card from virtually any funding source; sending money can be cancelled if you change your mind provided the person you are sending it to has not yet accepted it; and your transactions can be viewed either from your device or on the web. It is Siri friendly, so you can use your Contacts list to pull up people you want to send money to.
Those are the basics. That leaves you with the question of whether you should get involved immediately with the Beta version, wait until the fully tested version is available, or whether you should use these mobile apps/features at all for your daily cash transactions. Apps like Google Cash have been around for a while, and work on multiple operating systems and devices. Choosing Apple Pay Cash does limit you to a certain degree.
For more than a few people there is a trust issue with allowing Apple or Google or whoever to get their hands on your money. More people and businesses are accepting these mobile app payments, but you may find yourself once again limited if your favorite places to shop have not bought into the technology. Consider how many people write checks today versus 10 years ago. Debit cards, prepaid cards, and credit cards have largely replaced checks as a form of payment because they are easier to use and businesses do not have to worry much about check fraud.
If you are over the trust issue, compatibility with non-Apple devices can be a significant limitation if your friends and family have a diverse number of Android or other non-iOS platforms they have installed on their phones. As was mentioned at the beginning of the article, Apple Pay Cash comes in late in the game, so many people have already gotten comfortable with apps such as Venmo and Square Cash. Regardless if they have iOS or not, they may not be willing to make the switch.