Near Field Communication (NFC) technology is not exactly breaking news, however Apple incorporating it in a next-generation iPhone likely is. According to a report citing trusty sources, the mobile payments system is being fitted inside the iPhone 6, possibly under its Home button (as suggested by an Apple patent application).
BrightWire cites sources close to the situation as saying that “Apple is likely to incorporate a Near Field Communication (NFC) payment function in the next generation iPhone and has reached an agreement with China UnionPay on a mobile payment service.”
So not only is Apple finally building NFC into its iPhone line, it has already struck a deal with one of the world’s leading mobile payment processors to get the show on the road.
The two companies will reportedly work on a secondary mobile payment solution “that can be used for purchases in Apple Stores,” the sources added. The NFC will leverage Passbook, Apple’s dedicated app for keeping things like airline boarding passes, movie tickets, and gift cards all in one place, allowing users to scan their iDevice to check in for a flight, get into a movie, redeem a coupon, etc.
“Under the deal with China UnionPay, users would be able to download the bank card organization’s app to Passbook in their iPhones and make mobile payments on over 3 million China UnionPay’s ‘QuickPass’ POS machines in China,” the sources reportedly added.
China UnionPay is said to be developing an iOS-compatible system that follows its PBOC QuickPass standard, with many other major Chinese banks being invited to hop aboard and leverage the mobile payments solution.
In January this year, Apple filed an invention covering NFC to the US Patent and Trademark Office, suggesting that if it ever does incorporate the technology in its handsets, it will place it under the Home button.
The Home button on the iPhone 5s doubles as the Touch ID fingerprint sensor. Placing the NFC sensor under the sapphire-built Home button would also enable Apple to tackle a problem relating to NFC not getting along with metal enclosures.
Hardware-wise, the Mac maker is late to the NFC party but, so far, smartphone vendors that do offer the technology have not capitalized on the feature. Apple’s plans with NFC go beyond the actual sensor that lets users scan their phones to make purchases, as the company wants to tackle mobile payments as a business, leveraging the hundreds of millions of iTunes accounts with credit cards on file.