MacRumors summarizes a report from Silicon Alley Insider:
Apple may be considering creating a competitor to eBay's PayPal online payments system, allowing users to make purchases at third-party sites via their iTunes Store accounts.Wall Street gossips tell us that Apple executives have dropped hints suggesting the company is considering creating a service that would allow iTunes Store account holders to use those accounts to make purchases on participating third-party sites across the Internet.
Remember, this is Wall Street gossip and not confirmed news. But you want to be in the loop, right?
The report also notes that it is not clear what Apple's motivation for pursuing an online payment service would be, given the company's history of focusing its ancillary services on driving hardware sales. For example, Apple has primarily viewed the delivery of third-party content through iTunes (music, video, and applications) as a "break-even" proposition to drive sales of its iPod and iPhone hardware.
While the source did not elaborate on what that reason might be, the report speculates that Apple could be eventually planning to use iTunes Store accounts (and thus iPods and iPhones) for offline purchases, or perhaps the company simply views the online payments industry as an easy one for it to penetrate to help diversify its business.
I know where all of this stems from ... Apple isn't looking to make a Paypal competitor ... which is a HUGE problem customer service-wise (being a Quasi Bank). Apple is actually negotiating with retailers to allow iPod/iPhone/Accessory purchases and allow in store kiosks for app & music downloads. Right now, one can only buy apps and music from one's home computer. Apple would like to make deals with distributors and retailers to sell physical objects ... in turn, Apple would like to be able to sell things like the Tom Tom GPS Adapter for the iPhone in it's store. Right now ... you can't do that. If all went as planned and from what I've heard ... I suppose you'd buy the adapter and Apple would allow immediate download of the app and ship you the adapter in the mail. I'm sure Apple would love to market cases and sync cables and chargers through the app store as well.