Inside Apple’s secret plan to kill the cash register

“If you’ve ever been to a store, you know the drill: Browse the merchandise, pick something, carry it to the checkout counter, maybe wait in line, pay, then walk out with your purchases and a receipt,” Mike Elgan writes for Computerworld. “An American saloon owner named James Ritty invented the cash register in 1879. Since then, all cash registers have shared the characteristics of bigness, heaviness and bulkiness — and have required the old walk-up-to-the-counter behavior in order to buy things.”

“One notable exception is your local Apple Store,” Elgan writes. “There are no cash registers. If you want to buy something, you flag down some kid wearing a brightly colored T-shirt and hand over your credit card. The kid scans the item’s bar code with a specially outfitted iPhone or iPad, swipes your credit card and emails you the receipt. The transaction can happen anywhere in the store.”

Elgan writes, “Apple, apparently, thinks the whole process for buying things in retail stores is dumb. The big counter you have to walk up to? The giant machine for registering the transaction? The paper receipt? Dumb. Dumb. Dumb. And it has a point. Cash registers are obsolete and unnecessary. So why would Apple’s hotly anticipated iWallet system require a cash register? It won’t, if one analyst has it right.”

“Apple’s iWallet digital wallet will eliminate the need for both the cash register and the credit card,” Elgan writes. “Why? Because it will use Bluetooth, rather than NFC, according to Pablo Saez Gil, a retail industry analyst with ResearchFarm… Apple has built Bluetooth 4.0 into every computer, tablet and phone it has shipped since the middle of 2011, representing millions of users. The world does not have to wait for a gradual NFC rollout. The underlying wireless technology has already been deployed at scale.”

Much more in the full article here.


  1. I never understood the idea of using NFC for a widely rolled out payment system. The security seemed to come from proximity. Whereas with Bluetooth & software & cloud system, the security is as good as you choose to make it (And can scale on the fly, $2 purchase at local store might go through automatically, $15 purchase may require your Apple ID / password, $1000 purchase may result in a quick phone all from the Apple call centre to verify identity, $50 purchase in another country might trigger a single phone all to make sure it’s you traveling, and not a theif.)

  2. You don’t even need NFC. If you have the Apple Store app, you can use your regular old iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch to purchase it yourself without even talking to an Apple Store employee. And you don’t need a credit card: it uses your Apple ID and the card associated with that account. Scan, tap a couple of buttons, and walk out the door with your purchase.

    That’s the weirdest part — walking out with an item that you didn’t tell anyone you were buying. It feels like you stole it, even though you paid for it. I keep waiting for someone to stop me once I leave the doors . . . .

    1. I used that self-checkout feature for the first time last week at the Apple store nearest to me. It’s freaking brilliant. I wonder how long it will be before a majority of Apple store purchases are done that way?


        1. If Apple can hide “sth” that has an anti-theft ability in the products , the sth deactivates after u pay . And when you walk thru door , it won’t make the alarm on .

  3. I hear Apple has even bigger plans — to kill the wheel. Already Apple R&D teams are working feverishly on a Apple iTT – Internet Teletransportation. It will be green technology from the get-go: the power of the sun will be harnessed in fantastic amounts to shrink every person and man-made device on the planet, thereby hugely reducing the global environmental impact of humankind.

  4. They actually do have cash registers you dumb ass. They’re built into the display tables.

    With all the problems with credit, service charges, etc. cash isn’t going anywhere.

    Wake up.

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