It took nearly a year, but Apple's pay-over-time system is here. The company has launched Apple Pay Later for US customers in a "prerelease" version that requires an invitation. If you're included, you can split your online Apple Pay purchases (made with an iPhone or iPad) into as many as four payments spread over six weeks. You can't apply for loans larger than $1,000 and have to link a debit card, but there are no fees or interest payments. This also won't hurt your credit score, and Apple says it won't share data with third-party marketers.
Apple Pay Later is part of the Wallet app in iOS 16.4 and iPadOS 16.4, and includes a calendar to help you track your next instalment. You'll also get app-based and email notifications for looming payments to be sure you're on time.
The feature should reach every eligible user in the "coming months," Apple says. Businesses that use Apple Pay don't need to do anything on their end due to a Mastercard partnership — if you can use Pay Later, you'll see the option during checkout either on the web or in apps. Apple will report Pay Later loans to American credit bureaus starting in the fall, and hopes they'll "promote responsible lending" for both borrowers and lenders.
Apple first previewed Pay Later at WWDC 2022, and was rumored to be working on the option in 2021. It was supposed to arrive alongside iOS 16 in September, but Bloomberg's Mark Gurman heard that it was pushed back due to technical challenges. The company hasn't officially explained the wait.
Staggered payment systems aren't new, of course. Companies like Affirm and Klarna have been operating for a while, and they aren't tied to specific platforms. However, Pay Later represents a significant expansion of Apple's financial ambitions. It already offers a credit card (managed by Goldman Sachs) and money transfers, and plans to provide savings accounts. Now, the company is making lending decisions. While Apple is still far from a bank, it can easily play a large role in your financial life.