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Sunday, March 13, 2011

Why there’s no point putting NFC in the Apple iPhone 5

Mark Bridge writes:

A report in The Independent says Apple won’t be putting a Near Field Communication chip in the next version of the iPhone. Although Apple is thought to be working on its own NFC service connected to iTunes, it’s said to be “concerned by the lack of a clear standard across the industry”.

On the surface, that phrase doesn’t make sense. Both Visa and MasterCard already produce NFC-equipped contactless payment cards - and plenty of retailers have equipment to process them.

Sounds like a clear standard to me.

However, there is something standing in the way of mobile payment adoption. The issue, as Mary Carol Harris of Visa Europe explained at Mobile World Congress 2011, is that credit and debit cards are provided by your bank. Sticking NFC in a phone doesn’t make it a ‘mobile wallet’ any more than giving it a magnetic strip or a signature panel would. You’ve got to get your card information on the device before you can use it for payments… and that needs your bank. Either the bank needs help from the network operator to put secure information on the SIM - or it needs help from the manufacturer or OS provider to get it into the phone.

Actually, there’s a third way. It involves creating your own payment service and then persuading the payment providers to connect with it. That, I reckon, is what Apple has up its glossy white sleeve.

And that’s why there’s no point in putting NFC in the iPhone 5. Apple’s not quite ready yet. But things’ll be different by the time we reach the iPhone 6 (or the iPhone 5GS, whatever it’s called).

Apple may well see the lack of an industry standard for NFC. But that’s only because it’s looking for its own NFC standard to be adopted.

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Author: The Fonecast
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