Mobile Access

The Transition to Apple Wallet was an Inevitable One

Apple’s attempt to replace the physical wallet and key has been a decade in the making. And all of the sudden it’s become a reality.

A slow but steady burn.

Launched in 2012, Apple’s Passbook app (later rebranded to Wallet) aimed to consolidate passes into a single app. At launch its implementation was enticing to both developers and customers: passes could be updated in real-time and use location data to offer timely notifications. This way, an airline boarding pass could update to reflect a new gate number, while a movie ticket could present itself on a user’s Lock Screen as they arrived at the theater.

Over the years, Apple’s humble ticket and pass app would expand to become a comprehensive replacement for physical keys, cards, badges and eventually identification. Apple would go so far as to expand its abilities to begin replacing dedicated order tracking and banking apps. Let’s take a look at the evolution of Apple’s most unassuming app.

June 2012

Apple announces Passbook, an app aimed to consolidate all of a user’s tickets, passes, rewards and membership cards into a single app.

September 2014

Alongside the reveal of iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, the company announced their new payment process: Apple Pay. It would leverage the devices’s NFC antenna (a new addition to iPhone), allowing users to tap their device to a payment terminal and pay for goods and services in stores. Banks would begin issuing digital versions of their payment cards which users could add to Passbook and use with Apple Pay while merchants would begin updating their payment terminals and apps to support the new payment process. Apple Pay would launch in the US the following month.

June 2015

Apple adds support for store cards in Passbook and announces that Transport for London would support Apple Pay, enabling customers to tap-and-ride. With the expanding capabilities of Passbook, the company announces that they’re rebranding the app to Apple Wallet. In the following years, cities such as Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington, DC would launch their own dedicated transit cards in Wallet, while cities like New York and Philadelphia would support riding transit with payment cards using Apple Pay.

June 2018

Apple announces that they’re bringing student ID cards to Wallet. Students can add their ID to Wallet and use it to tap into the gym, dorm, and other campus facilities as well as pay for food, laundry and more with their student fund accounts. The feature would expand to Canada and Australia in the following years.

September 2018

iPhone XR, XS and XS Max become the first Apple devices to feature NFC with reader mode, allowing them to passively scan for NFC readers. This would allow users to pass through transit system fare gates without the need to manually invoke Apple Pay. The newly-announced iPhones would also be the first to enable Power Reserve, allowing the use of certain Wallet features even when an iPhone’s battery was dead.

Subscribe to our newsletter!
Your monthly dose of PropTech news and company updates

March 2019

In partnership with Mastercard and Goldman Sachs, the tech company announced Apple Card. The Apple-branded credit card offers a simple and easy-to-use dashboard, detailed transaction history, and cashback rewards based on a percentage of your purchases. Users could apply for and manage their Apple Card entirely from Wallet. The card would launch to all US customers in August of the same year.

June 2020

Apple adds support for car keys in Wallet, allowing users to unlock and start their vehicle with iPhone and Apple Watch. Users can share their digital keys with others using Messages, Mail and other messaging apps. And automakers could add functionality to their keys stored in Wallet such as the ability to unlock the car, open the trunk and set climate controls.

June 2021

Apple expands support for home, hotel and office keys in Wallet allowing users to tap into their home, apartment, flat, hotel room and office. Lastly, Apple announced the final step in their journey to replace the physical wallet: they were launching support for driver’s licenses and state IDs in Apple Wallet.

Beginning in the US, states could issue digital driver’s licenses and IDs to residents. TSA checkpoints would be the first place people could use their IDs in Wallet. Supporting the feature would rely overwhelmingly on individual states for issuing the IDs and on businesses and venues to accept them.

December 2021

Hyatt Hotels begins rolling out room keys in Apple Wallet at select properties, becoming the first hotel chain to support the feature.

March 2022

Arizona would become the first state to launch support for IDs in Wallet allowing residents with a valid driver’s license or ID to add it to Apple Wallet. Maryland and Colorado would launch support later that year with Georgia launching support in May of 2023.

July 2022

167 Green in Chicago, an all-new luxury office building, becomes the first in the United States to launch employee badge in Apple Wallet–powered by Sharry.

June 2022

Apple enables apps to use IDs in Wallet for in-app verification of age, name, driving privileges and more, helping to lay the groundwork for more use cases and wider-spread acceptance as more states launch support for the digital IDs. In June of the following year, 2023, Apple would make it easier for businesses to accept IDs in Wallet with the launch of Tap to Present ID, enabling modern iPhones to request and read information from digital IDs.

September 2023

Apple launches support for viewing your bank account balances and transaction history directly in Wallet. Users could link the bank accounts associated with their cards in Wallet and view many of the details that used to be exclusive to their banking apps. From Wallet, a user could now see their entire transaction history including deposits, withdrawals and even account and card balances. This reduces a user’s dependence on dedicated banking apps and brings some of those apps’ functionality directly to Wallet.

There’s no turning back

Over the last ten years Apple Wallet has expanded to encompass a wide array of payment cards, transit passes and cards, event tickets, home, car, hotel and office keys and, most monumentally, ID cards. Quietly and without much attention or fanfare, the use of Apple Wallet seemingly exploded. Apple Pay is no longer a nicety, it is a standard feature at the overwhelming majority of retailers and merchants, both in-person and online.

Meanwhile the number of transit agencies supporting mobile payments is rapidly expanding while the number of smart locks that support home keys in Wallet continues to grow as well. While the expansion of car keys in Wallet has been slow, the pace at which new cars are supporting the feature is speeding up. Support for student IDs in Wallet is speeding up with more and more universities launching the feature every school year.

And, despite having been excruciatingly slow, the US rollout of IDs in Wallet has been steady, with four states supporting the feature and more actively working on deployment. And lastly, support for employee badge in Apple Wallet has grown tremendously since its initial launch just two years ago. Every month new offices around the world are launching support for the feature.

The transition to Apple Wallet is inevitable. And Sharry can help make sure you’re ready for it.

You like it? Share it…
Subscribe to our newsletter!
Your monthly dose of PropTech news and company updates

Let’s Connect

Interested in pricing, demo, or hardware requirements? Fill out the form and we will get back to you within 24 hours.


Book a call