Apple is preparing to take on the likes of Google and PayPal by launching a mobile wallet service for iPhone, iPad and iTunes users, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The WSJ says Eddy Cue, Apple's iTunes and App Store chief and a key lieutenant of chief executive Tim Cook, has met with industry executives to discuss Apple's interest in handling payments for physical goods and services on its devices, "according to people familiar with the situation".
Citing three unidentified sources, the Journal says Apple has charged online stores executive Jennifer Bailey with the job of pushing Apple's business into the payment industry.
Apple has built a formidable array of payments-related technology for use online and on the high street, but has yet to make the break beyond its own tightly-controlled retail ecosystem.
At its own stores, Apple customers can already pay for goods and services using cards linked to their iTunes account, and store cards on their phone using the company's Passbook app. The firm has also begun deploying bluetooth-powered devices to push offers and coupons to users as they browse the store. Added security comes in the form of a fingerprint reader on the most recent iPhone models.
More recently, Apple filed the latest in a succession of payment-related patents - the latest covering payments for goods through a signal sent from a phone to a wireless receiver.
Update: In an earnings call late yesterday, Apple CEO Tim Cook admitted that mobile payments was a business that "intrigued" the company and that it influenced Apple's thinking when developing the TouchID fingerprint scanner.