More Hints that Apple is Working on an NFC Payment System on the Next iPhone

Apple's interest in incorporating Near Field Communication (NFC) capabilities into the iPhone has been long rumored. Near Field Communications is short range wireless communication technology (~4 inches) that is used in mobile phones for a variety of applications including mobile payments.

One of the more credible reports about that possibility came from the New York Times in March 2011. The newspaper reported that Apple was interested in incorporating NFC into a future iPhone, but was unable to specify when:

According to two people with knowledge of the inner workings of a coming iteration of the Apple iPhone - although not necessarily the next one - a chip made by Qualcomm for the phone's processor will also include near-field communication technology, known as N.F.C. This technology enables short-range wireless communications between the phone and an N.F.C reader, and can be used to make mobile payments. It is unclear which version of an iPhone this technology would be built into.

The New York Times believed that Apple would offer a solution that would somehow integrate with users' iTunes accounts to offer payments.

iphone visa mobile payment

Rumors went back and forth about it happening in 2011, but ultimately settled on expectations that we wouldn't see an integrated solution until the 2012 iPhone revision.

A Fast Company interview from last week tried to pin down if Apple was one of Mastercard's future NFC partners, to which the executive seemed to falter, giving an excuse about confidentiality.

"The timeline is always as rapid as it makes sense for consumers," he says. "That's a combination of having a critical mass of the merchants, which is what you're seeing right now, and getting devices into the hands of consumers. I don't know of a handset manufacturer that isn't in process of making sure their stuff is PayPass ready."

So that would include Apple then?

"Um, there are...like I say, [I don't know of] any handset maker out there," McLaughlin says. "Now, when we have discussions with our partners, and they ask us not to disclose them, we don't."

And now, at Macworld, it seems at least one developer told 9to5Mac that they were hearing the same hints from Apple iOS engineers that the company is "heavy into NFC". That developer seemed confident enough to be building an NFC-capable iOS app, even though that functionality is currently requires 3rd party NFC accessories on the iPhone.

Apple has already made a small stride towards convincing users to use their iOS devices and iTunes account for payments. Apple recently introduced a self-checkout system to their Apple Store app that allows customers to purchase items at Apple retail stores using their iTunes account. NFC would further streamline the process and potentially expand it to many other retailers.

Top Rated Comments

kurtatx Avatar
117 months ago

I think I’d rather see a system implemented like the one at Apple stores. Scan your merch; enter your iTunes password; walk out the door.


Not sure I want Apple knowing everything I buy, but maybe that's just me.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
kdarling Avatar
117 months ago

I guess I just don't see the need for this. Sure it would be nice to not carry around my wallet but I still need to carry some kind of ID, right?


Actually, I think that eventually we'll also be able to use our phones to hold driver licenses and other photo ids.

Right now, for the consumer I think this is basically just another optional convenience... similar to ones a lot of people have already gotten used to:

* Using credit cards instead of carrying thousands in cash.
* Paying bills online without needing envelopes and stamps.
* Keeping all those membership discount cards on our keychains or phones.
* Using our phone to show our airplane boarding pass (http://www.tsa.gov/approach/tech/paperless_boarding_pass_expansion.shtm).
* Using our phone to buy and show movie tickets (http://www.fandango.com/mobiletickets).
* Buying coffee (http://www.starbucks.com/coffeehouse/mobile-apps)ahead in line with our phone.
* Using the Verizon Disney app (http://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/2009/11/mobile-magic-%E2%80%93-first-disney-parks-mobile-app-now-available/)to find and reserve ride tickets while in the park.


I'm sure you can think of similar conveniences that were unheard of not long ago, but which have become commonplace or will do so soon.

I know a lot of young people who use all the above now. Us older folks take a little longer to move away from paper/plastic, but if it's convenient, we hop on it too :)

This is a no-brainer folks. It's here now, it's getting bigger by the day. We don't have to use it, but it's there if we want to.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
kdarling Avatar
117 months ago

I wont use it or anything like it, The security risks involved are just too high.


On the contrary, the credit card companies love NFC, because they consider it to be far MORE secure than using a separate card.

1) You don't usually hand the phone to anyone else.
2) Even if you do, they cannot make a quick copy of your card or number.
3) You're less likely to accidentally leave it behind.
4) Quick pay is limited in the US to items under $50. Above that, you have to enter a PIN. This is MUCH better than with credit cards.

As with credit cards, you're not liable if your phone is stolen and you let them know as soon as possible.

Those cheering for this are merely senseless tech addicts with no real world thoughts or attitude. You don't need this, and what's more, you shouldn't want it either. You just Do because it's "something else you don't have yet"


Tell that to my daughter the mother and schoolteacher, who absolutely loves being able to use her phone all around Cape Canaveral to buy things just by putting it next to the usual credit card swiper. No fuss, no muss, no purse, no lost cards.

Yeah this stuff is gimmicky and dumb. Although we'll see much more places start to implement it once Apple makes it available on the iPhone.


Would that make it less "gimmicky and dumb" in your mind if Apple added support for NFC?

It's definitely coming. Just think of the valuable targeted consumer info they'll get with each purchase. That's why Google is doing it.

You see, when Apple said they weren't getting into the search business, that was just handwaving so people wouldn't notice that they were getting into the targeted advertising business, which is Google's real reason to exist.

It's a good bet that Apple will also figure out a way to make even more bucks on it, by passing everything through iTunes and charging someone for it. Then we'll all have to pay more to merchants who're paying Mastercard AND Apple.

Apple's not dumb. NFC's potential for revenue is huge.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
kdarling Avatar
117 months ago

This seems like an enormous pain in the ass to actually have to use. Here, let me start up this app to scan my phone.. oh wait hang on, it's not working. :rolleyes:


You're thinking like an iOS one-thing-at-a-time user. I'm sure Apple would make it easier. For instance:

On Android you simply turn on the phone.

When it recognizes the nearby NFC, the Google Wallet app starts automatically.

It's dirt simple. My stepdaughter uses it constantly in Florida to pay for gas, fast food, etc. She loves it, since she doesn't have to dig out a wallet from her purse. She just taps her phone.

Search "google wallet" on YouTube for tons of demos.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Rodimus Prime Avatar
117 months ago

I would really like this! My barclaycard has NFC built in but very few retailers support it - I think if Apple threw their weight behind the tech, it would see rapid adoption.

The only place I have seen an NFC payment terminal is McDonalds!


wow that is it? I have seen it at Best Buy, most fast food joints big time at drive threws, coke machines (best place for them) and random retailers.

In terms of security the NFC chip on a phone is a hell of a lot more secure than the ones on Credit cards. One big part is the phone can and does change the information sent out from the NFC chip. Something a credit card can not do.

All the CC companies would need to do is set have a one time internet connections in the first syncing of the device to get the counters lined up and then say every so many minutes the counter goes up and as such the number changes. This makes it near impossible to hack because after a few minutes the number you got is completely worthless. They could even have it set up that after so many days it needs to reset and new syncing happens. Mix this with a course location based the security gets even higher as they can track how the card is being used and if it starts jumping around way to fast lock it down.

They already do this with CC is if the card travels faster than you can travel it gets a very quick lock down. For example say I make a charge in Houston and some how with in say a few hours later they detect a charge in New York they know damn well that it is impossible and the card is flagged as stolen. Lock down and I get a phone call asking about it. They track all sorts of things about their users to protect against fraud.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
KOZOK Avatar
117 months ago

They kind of already do.

No they don't.

This seems like an enormous pain in the ass to actually have to use. Here, let me start up this app to scan my phone.. oh wait hang on, it's not working. :rolleyes:
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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