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

Broadcom Says Little About NFC in Q1 Earnings Call

Apr 23 2015

NFC Times Exclusive Insight – U.S.-based Broadcom reported continued growth for its connectivity segment during its first quarter 2015 earnings call, but made almost no mention of NFC.

Unlike Apple, Samsung Appears Willing to Open Embedded Chips to Banks for Their Own Apps

NFC Times Exclusive – Samsung’s NFC payments platform, Samsung Pay, is due to launch in the summer in the U.S. and South Korea. But it’s not the only payments service planned for Samsung’s new flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S6.

Small Australian Bank Says It Sees HCE as Offering ‘Wider Reach’ Than Other Technologies

Apr 8 2015

NFC Times Exclusive Insight – Australia’s AMP Bank said it chose to launch mobile-payments with host-card emulation over other NFC technologies because of the “wider reach” the technology offers, since it’s “available to all NFC-enabled Android mobile phones running KitKat or later,” the bank’s director digital, Michael Weeding, told NFC Times.

New Zealand Joint Venture Launches SIM-Based NFC Wallet Amid Growing Interest in HCE

NFC Times Exclusive Insight – New Zealand joint venture Semble has launched its SIM-based NFC mobile wallet, after delays and the decision by of two of the country’s big four banks to launch mobile payments from their own apps using host-card emulation.

Vodafone Seeks to Revamp Wallet with Tokenization and Apple Pay Technology Model

NFC Times Exclusive Insight – Vodafone Group is relaunching its NFC-based Vodafone Wallet with tokenized payment applications, as it seeks to attract more users and issuers to the mobile wallet.

Under Threat, Mainstream TSMs Rebrand as ‘Credential Managers,’ Embracing Tokenization and Accepting HCE

NFC Times Exclusive – Is the TSM, as we know it, dying? Predictably, the three major global trusted service managers say no.

UPDATED: OTI Gets Favorable Ruling in NFC Patent Infringement Case; Reports Continued Losses for 2014

Mar 31 2015

NFC Times Exclusive Insight – A U.S. district court judge has ruled that T-Mobile USA infringed an NFC patent held by Israel-based On Track Innovations.

Second Kiwi Bank Snubs SIMs for HCE with ANZ’s Planned NFC Launch; Bell ID Gets Nod as Vendor

Mar 31 2015

NFC Times Exclusive Insight – Another major New Zealand bank has announced plans to launch NFC payments with host-card emulation, snubbing a joint venture set up to launch SIM-based NFC on the island nation.

Microsoft Jumps on HCE Bandwagon Though Meager Windows Market Share for Smartphones Mutes Impact

Mar 26 2015

NFC Times Exclusive Insight – Windows 10 for phones, set to be released later this year, will support host card emulation, or HCE, based NFC payments, Microsoft revealed at a recent Windows event in China.

G&D Supplies HCE Technology for Commonwealth Bank HCE Service

Mar 25 2015

NFC Times Exclusive Insight – Germany-based Giesecke & Devrient confirmed it is providing the host-card emulation technology for Commonwealth Bank’s commercial HCE launch this month of Tap & Pay from the bank’s Android-based mobile-banking app.

Identiv Plays Up IoT Tag Business, but Losses Continued in 2014

Identiv CEO Jason Hart sounded optimistic tones about the company’s NFC tag business, particularly in “Internet of Things” applications or tags for consumer goods, during a conference call last week to discuss Identiv’s fourth quarter and full year 2014 earnings, but investors responded with less optimism.

Gemalto Claims 25% of U.S. EMV Market; Seeks to Take Spotlight Off SIM

NFC Times Exclusive Insight – France-based Gemalto, which is keen to take the spotlight off its SIM business, projects EMV cards to represent perhaps the largest expected source of revenue growth in the coming year.