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Don’t Leave Home Without It

by Benazir Shah
21 comments
Photo illustration by Minhaj Ahmed Rafi

Photo illustration by Minhaj Ahmed Rafi

Apple’s latest innovation was co-invented by a Pakistani.

Like all things apple, the tech giant’s Apple Pay promises to be a game changer. In this case, iPhone users are now able to securely and privately make swipe-free payments at, to begin with, some 220,000 stores in the U.S. using credit and debit card information stored on their devices. One of the seven men behind this bigger-and-better product is Pakistan’s Ahmer Ali Khan.

Khan, 38, hails from Rawalpindi, graduated from the Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute of Engineering Sciences and Technology—where friends knew him as The Programmer—and moved to Silicon Valley in 2000. He worked a number of short tech gigs until landing his first full-time job at a startup. On his first day there, Khan was asked if he knew the Java computer language. He didn’t. But he was ambitious and determined. “‘I promise I will know it by tomorrow,’” Raza Shaukat Latif, a friend of Khan’s, recalls him as saying at the time. “Sure enough, he bought a book and crammed the entire night.” By morning, Khan knew the language. “That is just how brilliant he is,” Latif told Newsweek. “He has had the tech bug in him for a very long time.”

It was at the now-defunct ViVOtech, a company specializing in Near Field Communication software, that Khan first tried his hand at building a cellphone-based, contactless payment system. In 2011, Apple picked Khan to work on its “top secret” digital payment system aimed at revolutionizing shopping and, potentially, retail banking.

In February, Khan and six other co-inventors filed their patent for what Apple CEO Tim Cook would unveil to the world on Sept. 9 as Apple Pay. It “will forever change the way all of us buy things,” Cook said at the launch in Cupertino of the new technology, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus and Apple Watch.

Khan lives in Milpitas, California, with his wife and two children. Citing Apple rules, he declined to comment for this piece.

Apple Pay allows a shopper to simply hold his Apple device, an iPhone or the Apple Watch, which comes out next year, to a contactless reader to make payments, which are confirmed as transmitted  through a short vibration or beep. Credit and debit cards can be added to the device’s Passbook app using the phone camera. All transactions are entirely secure and private, says Apple.

“With Apple Pay, instead of using your actual credit and debit card numbers when you add your card, a unique Device Account Number is assigned, encrypted and securely stored in the Secure Element, a dedicated chip in iPhone and Apple Watch,” it says. “These numbers are never stored on Apple servers. And when you make a purchase, the Device Account Number alongside a transaction-specific dynamic security code is used to process your payment. So your actual credit or debit card numbers are never shared by Apple with merchants or transmitted with payment.”

In case the device is lost or stolen, banking and other information can be deleted remotely.

Google Wallet preceded Apple Pay but failed to take off and replace plastic. Apple’s recent past is a good indication that with Khan and team’s Apple Pay, it will hit pay dirt.

From our Oct. 4-18, 2014, issue.

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21 comments

someinternetdude October 5, 2014 - 10:03 pm

Boy I hope iSheep money does not get funneled to ISIS.

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Shan October 7, 2014 - 4:13 pm

There’re you go, the moment a non-white had achieved something big, negativity about him a in a humorous way has started.

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saigol, Zeek October 8, 2014 - 9:56 am

ISIS is a US funded lead, CIA trained paid mercenaries … otherwise how come a militia is so logistically strong and well equipped with latest US and Europe made weapons. Wait and see all this is to cover their war crimes committed in Iraq and Syria.. But remember US drama and eyewash is over and like always there creations this monster will back lash on them .. like the creation of Taliban against Russia and all qaida network… just wait and see.. now start jumping on my comments I won’t even read ur reply..

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Philip Cohen October 6, 2014 - 5:05 am

Apple Pay—the greatest media/marketing beat up yet of the 21st century! Too bad all that hot air will soon enough cool …

Retail Payments (and Apple Pay)—The Reality … http://www.ecommercebytes.com/forums/vbulletin/showthread.php?25316

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khan khan October 6, 2014 - 10:18 am

This is really cool. Thanks for sharing

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Saleem October 6, 2014 - 7:57 pm

If he had been an Indian, he would have been on the front page of every newspaper!

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Gohar October 7, 2014 - 1:20 am

How significant was his role is what I want to know before I celebrate?

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Summy October 7, 2014 - 1:21 am

GIK does us so proud!!!!

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ahmadShoaibMoinuddin October 7, 2014 - 3:09 am

And once the shadow of this War OF terror is lifted, a better side of Pakistan will be seen by the world!

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Abbas Hussain October 7, 2014 - 8:19 am

Great Job Benazir Shah! Pieces like are much needed in the present times in which the international media’s lens carves a negative and racist image of Islam and Pakistanis. We need to do some positive marketing of the country like our neighbours do. Only then will perceptions change

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khawaja nawaz October 7, 2014 - 10:35 am

Proud to learn that a Pakistani guy has contributed to a device that is revolutionizing the World.

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yalman October 7, 2014 - 12:50 pm

Good job, ahmer!

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Majid JAMAL October 7, 2014 - 1:07 pm

Appreciated& more motivated for new generations of Pakistan……..

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Pakistanii October 7, 2014 - 2:03 pm

Welldone khan

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sarwat ayub October 7, 2014 - 5:31 pm

you just cracked me up………

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Khurram Qayam October 7, 2014 - 6:48 pm

No doubt Ahmer is brilliant. Being his class fellow at Sir Syed College Rawalpindi, I can expect more wonders from him. Well done Ahmer – you made us proud

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Atique October 7, 2014 - 10:15 pm

Dear Bershgal & Saad
Please read this

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Mursaleen October 9, 2014 - 4:36 pm

well Pakistani got alot of talent 🙂

Graphic Design Inspiration

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cashyourskills October 9, 2014 - 5:51 pm

technology is making human too much dependent, no one can avoid the change.

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Abrar October 10, 2014 - 2:30 pm

Nothing to do with GIK I am sure it’s clearly an individualistic effort and achievement. Well done buddy you have made all of us Pakistani proud in this era of sheer despair. May Allah shower you with all the blessings and more such successes in this life and hereafter. Ameen

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Maxx Malik October 17, 2014 - 1:11 am

Right person in the right place & time of course need talent and Bingo

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