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

Apple Pay Finally Enables Transit Ticketing in Beijing and Shanghai, but It May be Too Late to Turn Back QR Code-Based Wallets

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – After being beaten by rival handset makers Huawei, Xiaomi and even Samsung to the launch of NFC transit ticketing in China, Apple today finally began enabling riders in two major cities, Beijing and Shanghai, to tap to pay fares using closed-loop transit ticketing cards.

China UnionPay Seeks to Bolster Use of Brand for Mobile Payments Overseas; Will It Make a Difference?

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – China’s dominant bank card network, UnionPay, which is badly losing its battle for mobile payments market share among Chinese consumers to rivals Ant Financial and Tencent Holdings–both at home and abroad–is taking steps to try to gain some ground.

Japan Begins Overdue Move to Standard NFC Acceptance

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Japan was the first country to roll out contactless-mobile payments–starting in 2004–but it still does not accept standard, internationally interoperable NFC payments to any real extent, unlike most developed markets.

Google Seeks to Sign Up More Merchants for Tez App in India as Competition Heats Up

Mar 21 2018

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – SINGAPORE: Google is seeking to sign up more small merchants and encourage more retail payments with its Tez mobile payments service in India, an app now mainly used for peer-to-peer funds transfers.

Apple Pay Could Get More Single-Tap Rewards in Next Few Months but Technology is Not Proving Easy to Roll Out

NFC TIMES Exclusive – Restaurant loyalty platform vendor Punchh could enable its delayed single-tap loyalty and rewards service with Apple Pay in the second quarter of this year at as many as six quick-service and fast-casual restaurant chains, the vendor told NFC Times.

Visa Sees Range of Use Cases for QR Code-Based Payments, as It Seeks to Address Threat from New Payments Players

NFC TIMES Exclusive – Visa, which last summer announced it would introduce QR code-based payments to Taiwan by the end of this year, has recently briefed Taiwanese bankers on the planned architecture, use cases and some other details of the technology, NFC Times has learned.

Russian Telco MegaFon Makes Play in Mobile Payments Market With Virtual Bank Cards

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Russian telco MegaFon began issuing virtual Mastercard-branded bank cards yesterday, which its users can add to Apple Pay or Samsung Pay mobile wallets.

Google Gets Support for Its Underused Smart Tap Technology from POS Terminal Supplier Ingenico

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Google has not yet given up on technology it bought from the now defunct Softcard joint venture more than three years ago to try to boost use of its rebranded NFC mobile wallet, Google Pay, formerly Android Pay.

Analysis: Google Launches Google Pay Rebrand, as It Seeks to Enable Payments Across Multiple Channels and Devices

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Google began rolling out its previously-announced set of Google Pay services Tuesday in what is primarily a rebrand of Android Pay and other Google payments features. The initiative supports Google’s long-held goal of making payments seamless across its various products and access points.

Can Luxury Watchmaker TAG Heuer Sell Swiss Precision Along with NFC Payments? Its Latest Smartwatch Again Supports Android Pay

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – While payments wearables, in general, are taking off more slowly than expected, a number of manufacturers are incorporating the feature in their high-end watches and that includes Switzerland-based luxury watchmaker TAG Heuer.

Hong Kong Banking Group JETCO–Former Backer of NFC–Launches QR Code Payments Service

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Hong Kong ATM and interbank group JETCO is the latest provider to launch a QR code-based payments service for in-store transactions in Asia, with payments coming out of the consumers’ bank accounts. But the group has few if any merchants live yet.

Vendor Hopes to ‘Flip’ Bitcoin Holders into Users of Cryptocurrency for Retail Purchases

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – While Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are mainly seen as assets for speculative investments these days rather than currencies for making payments, U.S.-based provisioning and mobile wallet platform company Fit Pay Thursday released a second announcement about its planned contactless device that would enable holders of Bitcoin to make purchases at brick-and-mortar stores.