Apple Passbook

Apple Passbook, an application designed to integrate bar codes with iPhones and iPod Touch, enables consumers to make payments with their mobile devices, leverage credit and debit cards to pay for goods and services and provide digital coupon information at checkout stations. Two-dimensional codes work for QR and PDF417 types of international bar codes, and the application works on devices that use iOS 6 or later editions. The application stores information in 35 languages currently, but further development is needed before Apple Passbook works on iPads.

Historical Perspective

The application allows iPhone users to store all their credit cards, airline boarding passes, coupons and gift cards, creating the first practical digital wallet. Apple introduced the feature in June of 2012 at Apple's World Wide Developer Conference, but practical use began on September 19th, which was the release date of the essential iOS-6 update that devices need to run the program.

Initial Disappointment Changes to Cautious Optimism

Initially, only a few major retailers and airlines integrated the payment option into their POS systems, causing many excited consumers some disappointment. Major verification companies, such as Verifone, Heartland Payment Systems and Ingenicco SA also had little reason to appreciate the new technology, which has the potential to make their services increasingly unnecessary.

Today, more companies have integrated the Apple Passbook payment option into their systems so that the technology enjoys increasing acceptance at retail outlets, hotels and airlines. Starbucks, Major League Baseball, Valpak coupon company, Walmart, Home Depot, Old Navy, Barnes & Noble, Macy's, Lane Bryant, PetSmart, JC Penney and Dick's Sporting Goods number among the major retailers that now accept Passbook technology.

Transportation Services

Major airlines and transportation services accept Apple Passbook for tickets, and the application conveniently stores tickets and boarding passes to speed up negotiating airport check-in routines throughout the world. Participating transportation companies include Amtrak, Virgin Australia Airlines, Air Berlin, American Airlines, Qantas, Turkish Airlines, Lufthansa, Air China, Delta Airlines, Air Canada, United Airlines and many others.

Consumers and Businesses Can Create Passbook Passes Online

Physical cards and special iOS applications allow people to add Passbook convenience to unsupported cards. Websites that offer these applications include the following sites:

  • SnipSnap
  • Pachelo
  • Oyster Pass
  • BellyCard
  • Lemon Wallet
  • Klout
  • Kiip

Generating and Validating Passbook Passes

Tools, classes, online resources and dedicated websites offer resources for companies to generate or validate Apple Passbook passes. The follow table offers a representative sampling of resources in various programming languages:

Name License Language Website URL
PassSlot SDK MIT Objective-C


ass slot-ios-sdk
passbook MIT Ruby
django-passbook MIT Python
passkit.php MIT PHP
PassFactory.js MIT node.JS
passkit4j Apache Java


dotnet-passbook MIT C#
Passbook MIT Ruby

The Future of e-Wallet Technology

Competitors have responded to Apple's challenge by including near-field communications chips in their mobile devices to enable bar code payments and coupon benefits. Apple Passbook has opened the door to iPay applications and interactivity between consumers and retailers. Benefits include the ability to buy and display movie and concert tickets and airline passes, and businesses can use the technology for visitor's passes, digital coupons, service-technician identification and other purposes.