With the 11.2 update, Apple added the ability to send money to your contacts in an iMessage app. I’ve been wanting this functionality for a while.
We pay Apple to design delightful experiences. They did a great job with all things AirPods. They blew it with this.
After installing 11.2, you’ll eventually see a full screen advertisement that will tell you Apple Pay is available. After that, by going in the app drawer you are able to summon the Apple Pay interface. It will tell you if a contact is able to receive payments, which is nice. If they are, you are able to set a valid amount and choose Request or Pay.
After this, everything breaks down. I was afraid when I tapped Pay that it would automatically use my credit card and not my newly set up debit card. Luckily, an Apple Pay sheet appeared with my debit card pre-selected, even though my credit card was the default transaction card in Settings. Kudos for Apple picking the one that wouldn’t incur fees, but I wish you could set a default somewhere or it was clearer what would happen before tapping Pay. What if you have two debit cards?
Using the Money
Congratulations, you just received some money from a friend via Apple Pay. Now what? Well, you can use the money anywhere Apple Pay is accepted, but you’ll probably want to transfer the money to your bank, especially if its a large amount. If you go into Settings ➡️ Wallet & Apple Pay you will see an Apple Pay Cash card with a balance. If you tap on the card you can choose to transfer the money to a bank. If it’s your first time you can enter in an account and routing number. After that is set up you can bring up the transfer sheet, type in an amount, and start the 1-3 day transfer. I wish there was a balance button that autocompleted the value for you, particularly since that will probably be the number one use case by a large margin.
In order to transfer the money, you need to add a bank account. In all other similar apps, I’ve been able to add the bank account during onboarding and set it up to both withdraw and deposit funds. For some reason, this option is not given by Apple and I have to enter in two separate ways to access the same account. I understand Apple wants you to carry the balance on the Apple Pay card, but I feel like this onboarding decision is user hostile and ends up causing significantly more work for the user. I never used my debit card for anything but ATM transactions before and my bank actually wouldn’t verify my card for Apple Pay until I used it somewhere.
After sending a money request to a friend, I can’t find any way to see pending requests. There is also no way to take back a money request. Because of this, Apple Pay is not a valid solution for invoicing my friends for our shared expenses.
Apple Pay is coming into a crowded market with Venmo, Square Cash, and Google Wallet. Most people who want this kind of functionality in their life are on one or several of the apps already. For Apple to take over the space, they had to make the Apple Pay system compelling and as friction free as possible. Though Apple might be able to get new customers that didn’t trust previous apps with sensitive bank information, I don’t see Apple Pay being as successful as I hoped it would be many years ago. Having the experience exclusively inside of iMessage and the settings in Settings.app was a disjointed mistake. Currently the Settings.app panel just feels like a junk drawer of all settings and screens rather than a fluid experience. Apple Pay would benefit from its own app with a robust management solution and cleaner interface.