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New iPhone...but still no NFC

So amidst the now-customary fanfare, yesterday Apple launched the two latest versions of the iPhone 5 – the iPhone 5S and the iPhone 5C.

It was eagerly awaited by technophiles around the world to see what would come next, and features such as fingerprint recognition will cause a fair amount of excitement I’m sure. But for those of us in the payment space, we were waiting to see if Apple would, finally, put NFC in the iPhone. And once again, we have a new phone but not a sign of NFC.

So why not?

Contactless cards have seen great levels of success and almost every day sees more statistics coming out about their uptake around the world. So why hadn’t Apple gone for NFC, especially when so many other manufacturers have gone down that route.

There is no doubt that mobiles are going to be the future of payments, and if Apple doesn’t believe in NFC then what are the other options? It comes down to apps, linked to cloud based wallets, which have the potential to bring together multiple cards with loyalty schemes and even transit and other options, into one solution. But there are still a number of hurdles before cloud wallets have the acceptance levels that we are seeing with contactless cards.

But better user authentication

The fingerprint technology that Apple introduced delivers the ability to securely identify the consumer giving a level of verification for payments transactions that has eluded the traditional card world for a long time. By using the fingerprint technology along with a cloud wallet gives the control of access to the phone, so payment transactions cannot be made if the phone is taken, with a strong authentication of the user, which is required by the banks executing the payment transaction.

Will it ever happen?

If Apple hasn’t included NFC in its latest products, then I think I’d be prepared to bet that it won’t ever happen – they are looking beyond NFC. What does this mean for other mobile-based NFC solutions? Well that’s one we’ll have to wait and see…


Comments: (4)

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 11 September, 2013, 11:47Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

They must be pinning hope on Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), #iBeacon or just maybe just couldn't do it in time... iPhone 6 anyone?

BLE is an interesting concept, with Paypal also playing in this space.

Hotting up, but can't help but think that the Touch ID was a smart move forward.



A Finextra member
A Finextra member 11 September, 2013, 11:53Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

And for those that are interested...  ;o)

Google has been heavily focused on NFC and didn’t add platform support for BLE until the release of version 4.3  Apps that utilise BLE couldn’t release on Android. Some Android OEM vendors rolled out their own implementations.

Google have recently added BLE platform support  in Android 4.3 whilst continuing to roll out NFC-based Android Beam in Android 4.0.


A Finextra member
A Finextra member 11 September, 2013, 13:35Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Good comments, James. BLE is an interesting tech indeed, but not suited for payments per se - the latter relies on "paired" comm. There are ways to do it right (I am surprised PayPal didn't think of it, but then they are not a tech company. Just look at PayPal Here...)

There is no ubiquitous interface suited for "one-to-one" interaction, Andy - hence, when it comes to mobile, the options are limited.

As for NFC, the industry is still "all dressed up and nowhere to go". Once the infrastructure is ready, Apple will move in.

Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune 11 September, 2013, 17:33Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Passbook is a clear enough signal that Apple has chosen to fix what's really broken, namely plastic loyalty cards, and ignore payments, where plastic is not broken.

Mobile Wallets: Fix What's Broken - And It Ain't Payments