Interesting read about what Apple may be up to. This is just the tip of the iceberg of what's to come in the cashless world. For instance, why couldn't Mint set up a system like this where the combined cash held by all those payroll cardholders can be used for micro loans/remittance to other cardholders. Mint would set up the mobile system, administer it, guarrantee the loans and we get a fee. No need for external financing.

Apple files patent application for human ATM network

John Greenwood | Jan 31, 2013 11:06 PM ET

This is cool. Apple Inc. has applied for a patent on an “ad hoc cash dispensing network” that would link up people who need money with others with cash to lend. Think of it as a mobile cash dispensing system.

Imagine you’re on your way to a restaurant when you realize you forgot your wallet. No problem. You open the Apple app on your smartphone, punch what you need, and the request along with your location are broadcast to others in the vicinity who are also signatories to the service.

Once both sides of the transaction are satisfied, the lender passes you the cash. Simultaneously, a payment equivalent to the cash plus a service fee are deducted from your iTunes account and transferred to the lender. (Apple takes a cut of the fee as well.)

News of the unusual patent was uncovered by Unwired Finextra’s account is also worthwhile.

It’s too soon to say when or even if the technology will become reality, but it’s clearly a sign that the move toward digital money is accelerating  It also shows that the world of payments and banking as we know it is headed for a period of upheaval. Traditionally the banks have dominated but more recently a host of other new players — Google, PayPal, Microsoft, Apple, plus a slew of start-ups — has entered the space and they’re looking for a piece of the action. They may be newcomers but they’ve got an enviable track record of successfully figuring out what the consumer wants.

According to Finextra, Apple’s patent application was July 2011 but has just appeared on the U.S. government’s Patent and Trademark office website.