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.

HEADLINE NEWS

Visa Expands Token Service Provider ‘Partner’ Program, Though Most Vendors Not Yet Integrated with VTS

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight ­– Visa this week announced a new list of 13 “partner” companies to help it distribute and manage Visa-generated tokens, which the network giant is promoting for use in what it hopes will be large-scale rollouts of Internet of Things devices that can do payments.

Analysis: Apple Apparently Sees Need for Additional Pairing Technology with Support for NFC Tag Reading

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight ­– Nearly three years after embracing NFC technology for mobile payments but declining to support NFC’s tag-reading mode, Apple, in a surprise move, is adding tag-reading support to its NFC-enabled devices, including the iPhone 7 series and forthcoming iPhone 8, as well as its Apple Watch.

Exclusive: Major U.S. Processors Say In-Store Transactions for Pays Wallets Remain Disappointing

NFC TIMES Exclusive – Apple Pay and the other major Pays wallets still only account for around 1% of card transactions in the U.S., three major processors told NFC Times. At least two of the processors say they haven’t seen growth in Apple Pay over at least the past year.

Alipay North America Chief Insists Company has No Plans for U.S.-Based Wallet

NFC TIMES Exclusive –  Alipay has no plans today to introduce a mobile wallet in the U.S., and is instead expanding its merchant acceptance footprint in the U.S. only to serve Chinese visitors, Souheil Badran, president of Alipay North America, told NFC Times.

NFC Secure Element Shipments Likely Dropped for First Time in 2016, and Vendor Group Cuts Forecast for 2017

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Shipments of NFC secure elements almost certainly fell in 2016, based on recent figures released by vendor association Eurosmart, though the group is again declining to release specific shipment figures for NFC cards and embedded chips, instead combining the NFC unit shipments with those for machine-to-machine modules.

Samsung Pay Launches Commercially in Taiwan; No. 4 Credit Card Issuer Taishin Reveals Apple Pay Card Adds

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Samsung made it official, launching Samsung Pay commercially today in Taiwan with seven banks, as expected, following Apple Pay to the market by about two months and beating Android Pay, which is expected to launch on the island nation as early as next week. 

Why is Mobile Wallet Adoption So Disappointing? Some Industry Players Weigh In

NFC TIMES Exclusive –  NFC wallets are failing to catch on in the U.S., especially for in-store transactions, for a variety of reasons, including poor awareness among consumers and cashiers, lack of full buy-in from merchants, problems with certifying terminals for contactless and an insufficient value proposition, said industry players, including a representative from Google.

Samsung Pay Launches in UK Without Major Banks or MST Technology

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Samsung today finally launched its Samsung Pay mobile payments service in the UK, well behind rival payments services Apple Pay and Android Pay.

Wal-Mart Still Balks at Accepting NFC; Nordstrom Wants Right to Refuse Some NFC Wallets

NFC TIMES Exclusive – LAS VEGAS, Nev.: It’s been more than two and a half years since Apple Pay launched in the U.S., and retail giant Wal-Mart Stores still is no closer to accepting NFC at its 4,000-plus stores in the U.S. then when Apple began rolling out its NFC-enabled mobile payments service in October of 2014.

Apple Testing Loyalty Feature; Google Expected to Expand Payments for Home Device

NFC TIMES Exclusive – As they struggle with low user adoption of their respective wallets in the U.S., Apple and Google are seeking to add more features, hoping to increase transactions, NFC Times has learned.

Taiwan Chief Banking Regulator Reveals Apple Pay Card Adds; Samsung Launches Early Access in Country

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – The chairman of Taiwan’s banking regulator, the Financial Supervisory Commission, Wednesday revealed just how fast a start Apple Pay got on the island nation, following its launch of the mobile payments service there in late March.

Analysis: Cook Touts Apple Pay's 'Phenomenal Traction,' but Figures–or Lack of Them–Tell Another Tale

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Apple CEO Tim Cook, with typical enthusiasm, touted Apple Pay’s “phenomenal traction” yesterday in a conference call with analysts. But with one exception, he again failed to release any actual transaction figures for the mobile payments service, while also apparently overstating the contactless and NFC acceptance footprint in the U.S.