Just weeks after what Apple CEO Tim Cook dubbed "the year of Apple Pay" came to a close, evidence has surfaced suggesting 2016 could also be a big year for the iPhone company's mobile wallet.

Late last year, rumors began circulating after a set of patents were published hinting that Apple was considering adding peer-to-peer (P2P) payments to its Apple Pay service. Now, further details have come to light making it clear that Apple is in fact architecting a system that would allow iOS users to send direct payments to one another, bypassing traditional banking systems.

Initially imagined to be similar to Facebook Messenger or Snapchat's P2P payment offerings, which friends can use to send funds through massaging options, Apple appears now to be looking beyond its iMessage platform. According to a patent filed early in December, Apple is reportedly exploring options that would allow users to also send money through phone calls, emails and calendar invites, providing for a more robust, integrated system than its competitors.

While the patents can speak to the way the payment system may work within iOS, what they cannot tell us is just how Apple plans to make its service work. Apple is reportedly in discussion with several major banks including JP Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo and Capital One. However, there has yet to be any indication as to what stage these talks may have progressed so far. Conversations like these are key to Apple determining how it would integrate the banks' existing infrastructure, how immediately funds would be available after transfer through the P2P system and how much the service would cost.

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