Apple (AAPL -0.60%) is one of the most valuable companies in the entire world. Its embrace of innovation underpins nearly every development and technology it releases to the world. The tech giant has recently focused on developing its own financial ecosystem.
Apple device users are likely aware of these upgrades as they have been released in software updates over the last few years. The company's first move into the realm of finance came when Apple released Apple Pay in 2014.
Apple Pay provides the foundation for all of its financial service users, like customers and merchants, to stay in communication with each other. With Apple Pay, users can pay for items without having to thumb through a wallet. Instead, they can tap their phone or smartwatch on credit card terminals for payment.
This was just the beginning of Apple's financial endeavors. The company released the Apple Cash feature in 2017. With Apple Cash, the tech giant took a dive into the peer-to-peer electronic payment field, which was dominated by the likes of PayPal's Venmo or Block's CashApp. Now, iPhone users can send money to each other through a simple text.
Eventually, Apple even released its own credit card. Known as the Apple Card, Apple partnered with Goldman Sachs and Mastercard to offer Apple users their own credit option. Apple Card holders received a generous reward program that offers 2% daily cash back on all purchases and 3% cash back on any Apple product purchase.
Most recently, Apple announced the Apple Pay Later feature. This program allows users to split purchases into four different payments over a span of six weeks. It seems that the rise of popularity of similar products from companies like Klarna and Affirm spurred Apple's recent endeavor.
Apple's personal finance future
Apple has a substantial history of developing its financial ecosystem and continues to prioritize further investment into the personal finance sector. But what could be next? Enter Bitcoin (BTC 1.63%).
Tim Cook, Apple's CEO, was asked in November last year if he owned any Bitcoin at the New York Times's DealBook conference. Caught off guard a little, he replied that he did, in fact, own some Bitcoin and had been interested in cryptocurrencies "for a while."
When considering the path that Bitcoin has forged over the last decade and Apple's pursuit of innovation in personal finance, you could imagine that this topic has likely been covered extensively in Cupertino at Apple's headquarters.
While nothing has been officially released, what would an Apple-Bitcoin integration look like? And more importantly, what would it mean for Bitcoin's future?
Apple's robust financial ecosystem provides an ideal foundation for further development with Bitcoin. It wouldn't be difficult to imagine iPhone users having the ability to send Bitcoin to other users with just a text. As more companies begin to accept cryptocurrencies for payment, it would also make sense that consumers could use purchases for everyday items with crypto with just the tap of a watch or phone.
Let's say Apple took this next step and integrated with Bitcoin; it would be the most significant leap in adoption that the original cryptocurrency has ever received. Despite already integrating with other popular financial apps like Venmo and CashApp, a Bitcoin integration with Apple would immediately onboard the more than one billion iPhone users to the Bitcoin blockchain.
If Bitcoin were to gain that kind of exposure, it would further bolster its role in our increasingly digital world. Of course, most of this thinking is entirely speculative, but it's a valuable analysis. Current trends signal that in order to remain competitive, Apple (and many other tech companies) will have to find new ways to make Bitcoin more accessible or risk falling behind.