How Apple Pay's Quiet Surge Could Lead to New Health Features for iPhones

The success in this area could pave the way for other areas.

Apple Pay is quietly growing in use, and that could pave the way for more ambitious iPhone features. The contactless payment system enables users to complete transactions by waving their phone near a terminal and confirming their identity. The feature has proven Apple’s ability to handle security effectively, and that could mean more users entrusting their data with the iPhone.

A report from analysts Gene Munster and Will Thompson published Tuesday claims, based on surveys and transaction data, that 43 percent of iPhone users have enabled Apple Pay globally, up from 36 percent in September 2018 and 20 percent in December 2017. As Apple revealed in its most recent earnings call that there are 900 million iPhones in use worldwide, that means there are around 383 million Apple Pay users. The report notes that “while Apple Pay likely won’t have a measurable impact on Services revenue growth, the model, enabled by Apple’s treatment of user privacy, lays the groundwork for handling other sensitive data and bringing ease of use to areas like healthcare.”

iPhone in red.
iPhone with a red background.

See more: How to Set Up Apple Pay Cash on Your iPhone

Apple is making a number of moves in health services. It signed a deal last week with the United States Department of Veterans Affairs to bring health records to the smartphone, joining other providers. The company is also expected to bring new biometrics sensors to the AirPods, similar to those found in the Apple Watch. Apple has also released ResearchKit and CareKit, two developer toolkits that enable medical researchers to gather more data and understand medical conditions.

These moves are backed by a bold vision of the future. CEO Tim Cook, which once described health as the “holy grail” of the Apple Watch, told CNBC last month that he expects health will be the company’s “greatest contribution to mankind.” John Sculley, who was CEO of Apple until 1993, also told [CNBC] that “we’re going to see something similar in health” to how Steve Jobs revolutionized cellphones and photography with the iPhone.

Apple is likely to provide more information about its software plans at the Worldwide Developers’ Conference, the annual event scheduled to take place this summer. Amid news about updates like iOS 13, the company could outline more developer tools to enable new healthcare research.

In years to come, the Apple Watch’s advanced electrocardiogram monitor could prove minor compared to the future advancements Apple makes in this space.

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