The iPhone 6 may finally replace your wallet as a way to buy gas, groceries and a nice meal if a collection of rumors are true. For the past several years reports claimed Apple was on the edge of launching a mobile payments platform that could include NFC, but it never came to life.
Now, nearly two years after PassBook and multiple reports that NFC was coming, multiple analysts believe Apple is ready to include NFC in the iPhone 6 and let users turn the new iPhone into a debit or credit card that works at a growing number of retail locations.
Two key Apple executives give some credence to this, as Apple CEO Tim Cook and the new head of Apple Retail Angela Ahrendts show an interest in mobile payments.
Apple would not be the first to move into mobile payments with NFC, but the company has a history of arriving after someone else works out the kinks and pushing for greater adoption. The HTC One M8, Samsung Galaxy S5 and other Android smartphones can act as a digital wallet thanks to Google Wallet and the carrier backed ISIS wallet.
Over the last month I used Android phones with NFC to buy groceries, a snack from a vending machine, gas and a meal at McDonalds, but registers that accept NFC payments are still not common enough that most users can leave home without an actual wallet. One hope is that adding NFC and mobile payments to the iPhone would push more retailers to add NFC equipped terminals.
It’s still not clear if Apple will adopt NFC for the iPhone 6, or if the company plans to use iBeacons or other technology to make it easier to use the iPhone to buy things in the real world. Shoppers can walk into an Apple Store and use the iPhone and an app to buy accessories and other items that are sitting on the shelf.
A new iPhone 6 report from Morgan Stanley adds tot eh speculation with claims Apple will add NFC to the iPhone 6 to back an “iWallet” effort. In a not shared with Apple Insider Morgan Stanley analyst Craig Hettenbach tells investors, NFC is a “core part of its mobile payments strategy.” Hettenbach’s report notes that mobile payments may be at a tipping point which would convince Apple to join the fray.
Google Wallet recently switched to use a new type of technology to bypass carrier restrictions on mobile payments. Befor the change carries like AT&T and Verizon blocked Google Wallet in favor of a carrier solution. In this new report the analyst believes Apple will use the type of technology that Google abandoned due to the ease of pitching it as a more secure solution. This could allow Apple to market it alongside Touch ID and the analyst believes Apple has enough power over carriers to push support for an “iWallet” through.
Ming-Chi Kuo, an analyst with KGI Securities who accurately predicted many iPhone 5s features including Touch ID, believes Apple plans to include NFC in the iPhone 6.
Seeking Alpha reports that Apple may add NFC and support mobile payments on the iPhone 6 as part of the entry into the Chinese market. If this happens, it may be the second feature that a push into China adds to the iPhone, as a bigger screen is in high demand in Asian markets. iPhone 6 rumors suggest Apple plans to announce two iPhones, one with a 4.7-inch display and another with a 5.5-inch display.
9to5Mac reports that Apple’s new retail chief, Ahrendts, plans to focus on mobile payments and the customer experience. Mark Gurman reports, “Ahrendts and new online stores VP Kupbens are seeking to improve mobile payments in Apple’s retail stores and mobile apps for both the online and in-person purchases.”
This comes shortly after a report from Forbes that Apple is planning an upgrade tot he in store point of sale system that includes support for NFC.
Although mobile payments and NFC routinely appear as features the new iPhone will arrive with, 2014 could be the year Apple makes the jump. As Hettenbach notes the growth of NFC support is a factor that is hard to ignore and Tim Cook called mobile payments a, “really interesting area.”, in Wall Street Journal interview, before adding that Apple users add up to 800 million iTunes accounts with credit cards tied to them and Touch ID on the device for added security.
Cook closed by explaining as long as we still need to carry a wallet the problem isn’t quite figured out. It’s still unclear if Apple figured out mobile payments for the iPhone 6 or if analysts are hoping for a solution.
Reports suggest Apple plans to release two larger iPhones this fall with a new design and an improved camera as well as faster internals. Check out our iPhone 6 rumor roundup for the latest on the new iPhone.