Rumours That iPhone 5 Will Support NFC Ring True

Near-field communications (NFC) technology is being introduced to mobile devices at breakneck speed this year, with Visa having chosen the recent CES show as its platform to announce Android-powered phones will support PayWave systems. While this is great news for Android users, Apple enthusiasts have been left in the dark as to when the iPhone might receive a similar update.

Since our last story on the matter, posted almost one year ago, the iPhone has been updated without the predicted inclusion of an NFC chip. Instead, Apple has been investigating other payment innovations.

In November last year, Apple introduced EasyPay, a simple method for customers to scan and purchase non-serialised items with an iPhone from within an Apple retail store. The system utilised an application, which charges the customer’s Apple ID account, rather than requiring a credit card to be on-hand at point-of-sale. While EasyPay is great for those small ticket items, it is limited to use within Apple’s stores and has inherent security risks, as customers complete purchases and leave without the transaction being verified by a staff member.

As an alternative, adding NFC to the iPhone would allow any retailer to offer the service and it does not carry the same risk, with staff handling the transaction at the register as normal.

Visa Admits Discussions with Apple

There is light at the end of the tunnel after all for iPhone users, Bill Gadja, the Global Head of Mobile Product says.

“I can’t tell you when Apple is going to put NFC in the next version of the iPhone,” Gadja told Fast Company, “but we’ve had discussions with them around the PayWave standard and they’ve asked to look at our specification and certification process so that when they do decide to do something those lines of communication are open.”

While there is still no official release date, depending on how we read into Gadja’s statement, it may be sooner rather than later.

If Gadja is being literal and this reading is correct, we could expect to see an NFC-capable iPhone before the year is out, further solidifying 2012 as a year of m-commerce innovations. Given that last year’s iPhone iteration yielded the iPhone 4s, the prediction that the iPhone 5 would include NFC may prove to be correct after all.

Apple has a long record of being very good at keeping its cards close to its chest, as the company is notoriously secretive about the details of new technology releases. This obsession with privacy has recently been discussed with great detail in a book by Adam Lashinsky.

Do you think the next generation iPhone will include NFC technology, and will it arrive anytime soon?

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