Before you shrug off Near Field Communications (NFC) as something boring, you should really think twice about the technology and its usefulness for mobile payments.
You might remember Google Wallet came out last year for a number of Android-powered smartphones, a new service that allows for you to link your credit card and loyalty cards to your smartphone and pay with them directly from your device by simply holding it up close to an NFC-enabled payment system such as MasterCard PayPass.
According to Seth Weintraub for 9to5Mac, new iPhone prototypes do indeed have NFC chips and antennas. “Further investigation into this [iOS 6 beta] hardware code dump leads us to believe that these iPhones also have Near Field Communication (NFC) controllers directly connected to the power management unit (PMU),” claims Weintraub.
Jim Peters, CTO of SITA, a leading air transport IT and communications company, believes that NFC will be integrated into Passbook on the next iPhone, and that Apple will sneak up on the industry with this new service. Google Wallet has been available for much longer than Passbook, but Apple could use its marketing expertise to make NFC technology mainstream and put into the hands of everyday consumers.
“Opinion is that Apple is going to incorporate NFC into Passbook. Apple just thinks about how they can make it really easy for the user, and then they figure out how to monetise it. They don’t think about how to monetise it and then tell the user what they can have. It doesn’t work like that,” said Peters. “There aren’t any transactions in it yet, but I think that’s how Apple is going to sneak up on the industry. They are going to get people used to using it and then all of a sudden they will allow credit cards to be used in there, on the next iPhone, which will include NFC.”
This isn’t the first time that talk of an iPhone with NFC has been tabled. Apple hired “NFC expert” Benjamin Vigier in August 2010, while rumors of an iPhone with NFC have been circulating since as far back as January 2011. Apple is expected to launch its next-generation iPhone in the Fall alongside the public release of iOS 6 for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. The new iPhone is expected to have a taller display, smaller 19-pin dock connector and aluminum unibody design.