To date, the poor availability of phones with NFC technology has been one of the factors holding back the use of this technology to enable wave-and-pay mobile payments in a shop or peer-to-peer payments by touching phones together. It seemed earlier this year that bridging technologies may provide the kick start needed for contactless payments to really take off, but now there’s another contender for moving things forward, and one that is renowned for ‘game changing’ the market: Apple.
The rumours around Apple’s interest in NFC technology and mobile payments have been growing for some time now – filing patents, hiring product managers, working with Thales on SIMs (see appleinsider for numerous reports), and now they are alleged to be in a bidding war with Google for Boku . It seems increasingly likely that the “iPhone 5” will come with NFC built in, and some kind of mobile payments. But what would this mean for the market? Smartphones are an increasing proportion of new phone sales. Apple is number 3 in smartphone sales behind RIM and Android phones, but they do grab the headlines, and other phone vendors seem to follow. So we could see all smart phones NFC and mobile payments enabled. Now that would move the mobile payment market forward. But I wouldn’t bet on Apple following the emerging standards. They seem to blaze their own trail and I expect they’ll want a piece of the transaction to fuel their burgeoning revenue.