As part of its full-court push into fintech and financial services, Apple announced yesterday the creation of a new service that will lock the iPhones of individuals with unpaid debts and only allow them to be unlocked after a payment has been made. The new service coincides with published reports indicating that the technology giant is building its own payment processing and technology platform.
Apple last week announced the acquisition of a U.K.-based startup called Credit Kudos, which will allow the company to offer data aggregation services like those offered by Plaid. Releasing a debt collection service appears to be the company’s next prong in its attack on financial services.
Calling the service “iOwe“, Apple is planning to use its massive marketshare in the smartphone market — 56% of all smartphones in the United States are iPhones, which more than doubles Samsung’s marketshtare, the next-most popular device maker.
Users will receive notifications on their phones that the devices are subject to being locked if a payment is not made. Users will be able to use their Apple accounts — used to make purchases on iTunes or the App Store — or their Apple Pay accounts to make payments. Once a payment is made, the devices are unlocked.
While it did not disclose this in announcing the launch of iOwe, Apple is charging creditors a 25% commission for using the service. Apple will allow any type of debt to be uploaded into the platform by creditors. It will communicate with consumers via email and text message to ensure all relevant disclosures are made, the company said.
“We are excited to enter a new market that offers a tremendous amount of opportunities,” said Joe King, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Justified Opportunities for Kinetic Economics, or JOKE, as is has been dubbed inside the company, according to an email that the company sent to its employees. “Our research indicates that a majority of iPhone users won’t be able to last a day and will find ways to pay their debts once we take away their connections to the outside world.”