Apple on mobile payments and Touch ID: 'A big opportunity'

During a conference call to discuss first quarter earnings, CEO Tim Cook says the mobile payments space is intriguing for the company.

Richard Nieva Former senior reporter
Richard Nieva was a senior reporter for CNET News, focusing on Google and Yahoo. He previously worked for PandoDaily and Fortune Magazine, and his writing has appeared in The New York Times, on CNNMoney.com and on CJR.org.
Richard Nieva
Apple's new Touch ID fingerprint scanner.
Apple's Touch ID fingerprint scanner. Apple
Apple may indeed be working on a mobile payments feature to rival services like PayPal.

On a conference call on Monday to discuss quarterly earnings, CEO Tim Cook said that the company was intrigued with the idea. He added that part of the thinking in implementing the iPhone 5S's Touch ID feature was its possible use in payments.

"It's a big opportunity on the platform," said Cook.

To be clear, Cook said there was nothing to announce, but definitely did not close the door to the feature. He specifically pointed to users enjoying the ability to purchase digital items like music and books using the Touch ID feature, instead of having to type in a password.

Late last week, a report by The Wall Street Journal said that the company was making a bigger push into the mobile payments space, aiming to let users buy physical goods -- like clothes or cab rides -- using their iPhones. The article said that iTunes and App Store chief Eddy Cue has been talking to industry executives about the topic, and has put longtime executive Jennifer Bailey in charge of building out the business.

Speaking more generally about the Touch ID feature, Cook said it was one of the driving forces in iPhone 5S sales. "It was a major feature that excited people," he said.

As for the company's overall earnings, Apple reported record sales of iPhones and iPads, but also provided a weak outlook for the second quarter, which ends in March.