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At its iOS 6 announcement earlier this month, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) had been very clear that there were several features of the software, and consequently, the in-the-works next-generation iPhone that it was not unveiling. One of these, according to 9TO5Mac, is Near Field Communication controllers that will be directly connected to the power management unit of the new phone.
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The function could be used to make Apple’s recently announced PassBook application even more potent and help it compete with Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Wallet and Microsoft’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) similar service announced last week a lot more effectively. NFC could help Apple tie in with a payment processor like Citibank’s (NYSE:C) PayPass system for credit card transactions or become a payment processor on its own using the credit cards it already has on file from iTunes. NFC will also allow iPhone users to quickly and easily share files from one iOS device to another.
Ed McLaughlin, who heads emerging payments at MasterCard (NYSE:MA), also hinted at the possibility of the next iPhone incorporating NFC in an interview with Fast Company. “The timeline is always as rapid as it makes sense for consumers,” he said. “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.”
Jim Peters of communication specialist SITA agreed with the speculation. “Opinion is that Apple is going to incorporate NFC into Passbook,” he said. “There aren’t any transactions in it yet, but I think that’s how Apple is going to sneak up on the industry. They are going to get people used to using it and then all of a sudden they will allow credit cards to be used in there, on the next iPhone, which will include NFC.”
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