There are growing reports that the iPhone 5 will come equipped with Near Field Communication (NFC) functionality that would enable users to purchase goods and services by simply swiping their iPhone over a payment pad.
Bloomberg references Richard Doherty who claims to have information gleaned from engineers working on hardware for the upcoming iPhone 5 and iPad 2, alleging that both products will include NFC technology. Indeed, reports from late 2009 intimated that Apple was already experimenting with iPhone prototypes with embedded RFID readers. Further, Apple a few months ago hired Benjamin Vigier, an NFC expert, to lead up its mobile commerce division
Apple, based in Cupertino, California, is considering starting a mobile payment service as early as mid-2011, Doherty said. It would revamp iTunes, a service that lets consumers buy digital movies and music, so it would hold not only users’ credit-card account information but also loyalty credits and points, Doherty said.
Using the service, customers could walk into a store or restaurant and make payments straight from an iPad or iPhone. They could also receive loyalty rewards and credits for purchases, such as when referring a friend, Doherty said.
“Apple has created,” the report continues, “a prototype of a payment terminal that small businesses, such as hairdressers and mom-and-pop stores, could use to scan NFC-enabled iPhones and iPads, Doherty said. The company is considering heavily subsidizing the terminal, or even giving it away to retailers, to encourage fast, nationwide adoption of NFC technology and rev up sales of NFC-enabled iPhones and iPads, he said.”
Cool stuff, for sure. But as an important caveat, we should point out that Doherty had previously predicted that Apple would launch two form factors of the iPad. Moreover, his consulting group, Envisioneering, as of a few months ago, had a website was straight out of the mid-90’s and now appears not to be working at all.
Still, there’s no denying that Apple is, in fact, working on NFC technology deep within the confines of Cupertino. One report from a few weeks ago even suggested that Apple was exploring NFC technology for use in remote computing wherein users could carry data from their desktop on their iOS device and transfer it to an NFC enabled desktop machine. Moreover, Apple patent filings from a few months ago describe a Concert Ticket + system wherein users could use NFC equipped iPhones to purchase food, tickets, and even exclusive concert footage while attending a show. The patent explains that similar setups might be implemented in sporting events and amusement parks.