Apple will reportedly get into the mobile payments space with the forthcoming iPhone 6, and the iWatch.
John Gruber, who writes about Apple, says he’s hearing about a “a new secure enclave where you can store your credit cards, so you can pay for things at brick and mortar retail stores just by taking out your iPhone, but only if it’s one of the new iPhones.”
Gruber’s report is backed up by numerous reports that Apple will include NFC, or near field communication, in its next iPhone. NFC has been pretty common in Android phones. It allows for wireless transfer of information from very close range.
Apple adding NFC to the iPhone is a perennial rumour that turns out to be wrong, but this time it seems like it’s really going to happen.
Why now for Apple? These two sentences from the FT help to explain quite a bit: “Apple’s arrival may come at an opportune moment, as US retailers prepare to upgrade their cashier terminals. Visa and MasterCard have set a deadline of October 2015 to switch from swipe-and-sign credit card payments to European-style chip-and-PIN terminals, many of which could also include NFC capabilities.”
In the U.S., retailers are being forced to upgrade their payment terminals to support new, more secure standards. When they do that, they will be able to support NFC.
As Seth Weintraub of 9to5Mac says on Twitter, “One thing Apple has traditionally been excellent at is waiting for the right time to jump on a technology.” For instance, the iPhone initially launched with “2G” wireless service when 3G was widely available, and then it was slow to add LTE to the iPhone.
Apple tends to wait until a new technology is widespread enough to be used by most people. With all retailers updating their registers in the coming year in the U.S., NFC should be common enough for Apple to make use of it.
Unrelated to the issue of timing, but still important in any talk of Apple and mobile payments, is that fact that Apple has an added element of security with its fingerprint scanning TouchID technology. The TouchID will probably a big part of any mobile payment Apple does with the iPhone. Apple has had a year to test and refine its fingerprint scanner.
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