Apple Job Openings Add to Speculation it Will Support NFC

Apple has posted two new job openings on its site, adding fuel to rumors that the company is planning to incorporate NFC in its next iPhone and might support payments–though neither of the job postings mentions NFC by name.

One of the postings advertises an opening for a "manager of global payment platforms,” though it’s not clear whether this is a newly created position. And the new staffer would manage existing customer payment options that enable Apple’s customers to purchase products at Apple's online store, on iTunes, and at its retail stores.

But the position, which reports to Apple's controller of global payment platforms, would also "explore new global payments initiatives and expansion." That includes researching global payment rules and regulations and also looking at "payment vehicles for new markets" and preparing a business case for them.

The other job opening is for an iPhone hardware test engineer, and among the nine items listed under "additional preferred experience" is being able to work with RF, or radio frequency, technology. The posting reportedly had earlier stated a preference for experience with RFID, which would have been a reference to contactless technology. But that reference was apparently changed to just RF. And the RF experience does not appear in the long list of actual requirements for the job.

Despite this, the postings will no doubt add to speculation among Apple watchers, as well as many in the NFC and larger payments industry, that Apple is ready to adopt NFC for its next iPhone, due out this summer, and possibly for its follow-up iPad–and could support contactless payments with the devices.

That speculation was stoked last week by an article by Bloomberg news service, which purports that Apple plans to enable NFC payments this year from the iPhone 5 and expected second version of the iPad, using its iTunes payment service. The article cites as its only source a technology consultant, Richard Doherty, director of U.S.-based consulting firm Envisioneering Group.

Doherty also said Apple has created a "prototype" payment terminal that it could sell at low cost or give away to small merchants. With iTunes, Apple has 100 million accounts with credit card or banking account information on file that it could use instead of open-loop bank payment, the article suggests.

The article is based largely on speculation, however, and Doherty in turn was citing as his sources unnamed "engineers who are working on hardware for the Apple project." But in follow-up articles in other publications, Doherty was quoted as saying that he’d talked to outside hardware markers working with Apple on accessories "in anticipation" of Apple rolling out NFC, or that he’s talked to Asian equipment suppliers "bidding for inclusion in the next iPhone." This is not the same as citing engineers working for Apple itself. 

While Apple appears likely to incorporate NFC technology in the iPhone 5, especially given past patent requests, any plans to introduce NFC-based payments using iTunes remain open to debate. Some observers also believe Google is gearing up to introduce NFC-based payments.

Others, however, believe that both Apple and Google are planning to offer NFC-based mobile wallets that would be open to various payment applications, including Visa- and MasterCard-branded bank payment accounts. Apple and Google instead would focus on using NFC to enhance the features and improve the user experience for a range of apps in their respective app stores, including location-based advertising, say the observers.


NFC No Longer in a Starring Role at Identiv?

NFC Times Exclusive Insight – The new leadership at U.S-based Identiv focused primarily on its premises and identity products, particularly its new partnerships with Cisco, and mentioned its transponder business only briefly, without direct reference to NFC, in its most recent earnings call.

OTI Share Price Falls After Disappointing Q3 Earnings Report

NFC Times Exclusive Insight – Three months after new CEO Shlomi Cohen took the reins, Israel-based NFC and contactless vendor On Track Innovations reported a 31% sequential drop in revenue and a continued slump in contactless point-of-sale reader sales for the third quarter.

EMVCo Promises Token Service Provider Registry This Year; Without it, Third Party TSPs Can’t Fully Compete with Schemes

Nov 17 2015

NFC Times Exclusive Insight – EMVCo, the commercial standards organization owned by the world’s largest payment networks, has promised to have its registration process for token service providers ready by the end of the year. Until then, even EMVCo acknowledges that it is more difficult for third-party suppliers to offer tokenization under its specifications–a market that the major payments networks that own EMVCo now dominate in the early going.

MasterCard Licenses HCE Technology for On-Behalf-Of Service in Europe

NFC Times Exclusive Insight – MasterCard’s Poland-based payment transaction processor, Trevica, has licensed host card emulation technology from Turkey-based Cardtek in order to provide a managed HCE service to banks it serves in Europe.

Analysis: Chase Pay Deal with MCX–All About Economics

NFC Times Exclusive Insight – While Chase Pay will offer merchants in the MCX consortium a potential consumer base of 94 million Chase payment card accounts and the promise of integration with their loyalty programs and offers, the essential element of the deal was the very low transaction fees Chase will charge.

After False Start, NXP Adds Wearables as Target for Embedded Chip Loader Service

NFC Times Exclusive Insight – NXP Semiconductors will take another crack at rolling out its “loader service,” which seeks to make it easier for service providers to load payment and other applications on the chip maker’s embedded secure elements by managing keys on the chip.

RBC Drops All Support for NFC SIMs in Favor of HCE; SIMs Created Too Much ‘Friction,’ Says Bank

NFC Times Exclusive Insight – It looked like a promising compromise at the time, when Royal Bank of Canada launched RBC Secure Cloud in January of 2014–a hybrid approach to NFC payments that combined cloud with SIMs, storing a small applet on SIM cards.

NXP Semiconductors Finds Apple Pay Business a Tough Act to Follow

NFC Times Exclusive Insight – Apple Pay is proving to be a tough act to follow for NXP Semiconductors, with the Netherlands-based chip maker projecting lower sales next quarter for the business unit that includes its NFC chips, as part of an overall revenue decline for the vendor, which NXP largely blames on the Chinese market.

Deal with AmEx Highlights Continued Problems Frustrating Apple as It Seeks to Expand Apple Pay

NFC Times Exclusive Insight – Apple’s announcement of its expansion of Apple Pay to five more markets, including Australia and Canada this year, with only one major issuer– American Express–underscores the problems the tech giant is having in signing up banks for the overseas expansion of its mobile-payments service.

Chase Pay to Challenge Payment Networks, NFC Technology

Oct 28 2015

NFC Times Exclusive Insight – LAS VEGAS, Nev.: In a surprise move, JPMorgan Chase, the largest U.S. credit and debit card issuer by payment volume, announced plans to launch its own wallet app–along with a low-cost mobile-payments service accepted by Wal-Mart Stores and other big U.S. merchants in the MCX merchant consortium.

While Competition Heats Up Among HCE Vendors, Published Certification Lists Remain Thin on the Ground

Nov 6 2015

NFC Times Exclusive – MasterCard has released its first list of certified vendors for host card emulation products supporting its cloud-based payments specifications, though the list includes relatively few suppliers so far. Meanwhile, neither Visa nor MasterCard has apparently certified tokenization suppliers.

Researcher: Apple Bungled Apple Pay Launch from Merchant Acceptance Standpoint

Oct 22 2015

NFC Times Exclusive –  Apple mishandled its rollout of Apple Pay from the standpoint of merchant acceptance, according to a principal with the payments service practice of research firm Phoenix Marketing International, who said a significant percentage of consumers have told the firm they are having trouble finding places to tap their iPhones to pay, along with experiencing other “checkout issues.”