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An iPhone With NFC—at Last!

The addition of Near-Field Communication technology to the popular mobile phone will increase contactless payments and open the door to many new applications.
By Mark Roberti

The Google Wallet was a flop, largely because the agreements weren't in place to make it useable at a lot of locations. Apple is not making the same mistake. It has teamed with several retailers—including Macy's, Walgreens, Duane Reade, Staples, Subway and McDonald's—to ensure they accept ApplePay. McDonald's plans to accept ApplePay at its drive-through lanes.

It's not just the phone. Apple Watch also appears to have an NFC transponder in it. Tim Cook, Apple's CEO, said during the introduction that Apple Watch "has everything you need to pay with ApplePay."

The addition of NFC to the iPhone is certainly going to drive the acceptance of contactless (read RFID) payments. More retailers around the world will add NFC terminals at the point of sale. Given the ubiquity of smartphones—my 90-year-old mother-in-law has one—and the security features that can be built into your phone, such as the fingerprint recognition Apple is using, it is possible that credit cards could become obsolete.

The addition of NFC technology to the iPhone means retailers are going to need to embrace the technology at the point of sale. But it also creates some new opportunities for any company doing consumer marketing or providing consumer services. If you are a museum, for example, you can put NFC tags near displays and enable visitors to download short audio recordings, videos or other material about each piece in your collection. If you are a restaurant, you can allow people to read NFC tags at their tables and place orders via their phones, so waiters don't need to visit each table.

It will also be interesting to see if app developers employ NFC to create new apps or enhance old ones. But no matter what happens, NFC technology has just received a big boost.

Mark Roberti is the founder and editor of RFID Journal. If you would like to comment on this article, click on the link below. To read more of Mark's opinions, visit the RFID Journal Blog, the Editor's Note archive or RFID Connect.


Martin Cox 2014-09-16 05:43:18 AM
Would be nice but right now Apple has the NFC functionality locked down for ApplePay only. There's no API to give access to the NFC controller, only to integrate the Apple pay button into merchant mobile apps to receive eCommerce payments.

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