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We've heard a lot of rumors about Apple's plans for a "digital wallet" over the last couple years (particularly after the introduction of Touch ID), but now The Information reports that we could see it much sooner than expected. According to the sources, Apple now has the framework in place to allow iPhone users to use their handsets in place of their wallets, and we could see the technology as early as this fall.
The report claims that Apple's talks with industry executives from companies like PayPal have "heated up" in the past couple of months, and now progress is so far along that the Cupertino company's "digital wallet" could launch with the iPhone 6 during the rumored September event. A "secured element" would be embedded in the phone itself so as to keep any payment information generally free from malicious intent, and Apple itself would retain control over the basic systems.
The "secured element" in question is likely associated with the fingerprint sensor for Touch ID, which reportedly keeps the user's fingerprint data stored on the phone itself where it can't be accessed by any other part of the phone. If the technology is as good and secure as Cook and company say it is, it might turn out to be a good place to store data away from prying eyes—both physical and digital.
The service could also be tied to iTunes, which already contains the credit card information for around 800 million users. The main hurdle, of course, is getting other members of the payment community to adopt Apple's technology, which will have to happen if the iPhone maker doesn't want to have its mobile payment service go the way of, say, Google Wallet.
Follow this article's writer, Leif Johnson, on Twitter.