Oftentimes, new technologies can seem like solutions in search of problems. And while Apple isn’t above those kinds of moves, it also often finds itself ahead of the curve, pushing technologies with a lot of potential before the world at large is ready for them.

Apple Pay has, since its introduction, tended toward the latter. It’s a system that offers real tangible advantages over the status quo; the ability to pay with your iPhone or your Apple Watch offers not only more convenience than paying with a physical card but also bestows much needed security on every transaction. It’s become more and more popular, but there are still lots of places where you can’t yet use it.

Of course, much of Apple Pay’s adoption isn’t entirely under Apple’s control. Some retailers still need to update the hardware or software on their point-of-sale terminals, and the makers of some of those payment systems may have to add Apple Pay compatibility as well. While the recent addition of major chains such as Target and 7-11 help, Apple Pay still hasn’t trickled down to every local shop in my neck of the woods.

Adoption’s just one part of the equation. Even without Apple Pay being ubiquitous, there’s still room for Apple to improve what its contactless payment system offers.

Apple Pay for strangers

The rollout of Apple Pay Cash in December 2017 was a major milestone for the payment system. For the first time, it allowed consumers to exchange money with one another via Apple Pay, rather than only at a point of sale. Around my friend group, it’s often proved to be a quick and easy way to pay somebody back for a meal or movie tickets.

apple pay cash heroJason Cross/IDG

But, for all of that, it still has limitations. For one thing, it’s built into iMessage, and though that’s fine for friends and family, there are occasions where one might want to send some money to someone who’s not in your contacts, such as at a party, a conference, or a even just a big group dinner where you don’t know everyone.

In those cases, I’d love to see a way to send money via direct device-to-device transfers using NFC, perhaps using a similar system as AirDrop. After all, if you can drop a picture to someone you don’t know, why not a payment as well? You’d still need to authorize with your passcode, Face ID, or Touch ID before the payment, and, as with an iMessage account, a device is associated with a specific Apple ID.

Allowing these transfers would also have the benefit of turning iOS devices into rudimentary point of sales terminals, which could be attractive to small businesses or individuals selling products at places like farmers’ markets or craft fairs. If you could just tap your phone to a vendor’s iPhone (or iPad—more on which in a moment), that would go a long way towards broadening the applicability of Apple Pay.