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

Fitbit Unveils First Non-Smartwatch Supporting NFC Payments Service, but Progress of Device Rollout Slow

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight ­– U.S.-based wearables maker Fitbit in October plans to release its first non-smartwatch supporting its payments service, Fitbit Pay, with the recent unveiling of its new health and fitness tracker Charge 3–but as with its Versa smartwatch, released in April, the NFC payments feature will only be available on a “special edition” version of the tracker in the U.S. and likely in some other markets.

Analysis: Three Years In, Samsung Pay Transaction Figures Are Still Nothing to Boast About

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – ­Three years after its launch in South Korea, consumer take-up of Samsung Pay remains lackluster, despite the company’s efforts to hype up its newly released figures.

Dominant NFC Chip Supplier Seeks to Move Up Value Chain by Providing More Services

NFC TIMES Exclusive – NXP Semiconductors, the dominant supplier of NFC chips and secure elements for smartphones and wearables, is seeking to push further up the value chain, offering such services as a white-label wallet platform and provisioning of bank and transit payments applications.

More Cities Plan to Launch Transit Ticketing in Google Pay Wallet

NFC TIMES Exclusive – Some major cities plan to enable their transit fare payments in the Google Pay wallet, using NXP’s Mifare 2GO provisioning service, NXP Semiconductors confirmed to NFC Times, adding that the implementations could put the fare-payments applications on secure elements.

Vancouver Transit Authority Plans to Run Open-Loop and Closed-Loop Fare Collection Side by Side

Aug 13 2018

NFC TIMES Exclusive – Vancouver-area transit authority TransLink is seeing modest consumer take-up for its new open-loop contactless fare payments service and around 6% of the contactless EMV credit transactions are from NFC mobile wallets so far, NFC Times has learned.

Mastercard Backs Open-Loop Transit Payments in Taiwan’s No. 2 City

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Kaohsiung, Taiwan’s second-largest city, plans to enable riders to enter subway gates by tapping contactless EMV credit cards and NFC wallets by the end of the year, working with Mastercard.

Traditional Watchmaker Fossil Adds NFC Payments, Heart Monitor to Smartwatch Line, as It Seeks to Reverse Earnings Slump

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Struggling U.S.-based watchmaker Fossil has introduced NFC for the first time, in its Q line of smartwatches, hoping the support for Google Pay and other smartwatch applications will help the mainly traditional watchmaker to stay competitive as more consumers turn away from traditional watches.

Analysis: Apple Touts Growth, as It Releases First Global Transaction Figure for Apple Pay; but Service Continues to Face Challenges

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Apple released the number of global transactions for its Apple Pay service–believed to be the first time it has done so–as the tech giant touted a tripling of transactions to more than 1 billion for the latest quarter. Apple also disclosed plans by two more large U.S. retailers to accept contactless payments and announced that another major country, Germany, would support Apple Pay, later this year.

Japan’s SoftBank Group Plans Digital Payments Service; Can It Convince Consumers to Part with Their Cash?

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight –  SoftBank Group’s reported plans to launch a mobile digital payments service in Japan by year’s end–collaborating with Indian mobile payments provider Paytm–is an attempt by SoftBank Group founder Masayoshi Son to do what other large companies have tried and failed to do: wean Japanese consumers off of cash.

Garmin Unveils New Smartwatch Series Supporting Garmin Pay

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – U.S.-based wearables maker Garmin has introduced a fourth smartwatch to its lineup of devices supporting its NFC-enabled payments service, Garmin Pay, the high-end D2 Delta watch series targeted at aviators or aviator wannabes.

Hong Kong Subway Operator and Majority Owner of Octopus Pursues QR Code-Based Transit Payments

NFC TIMES EXCLUSIVE Insight – Hong Kong’s MTR Corp., which runs the city’s subway system, next month will accept tenders from technology and payments providers for a QR code-based fare collection service that will serve as an alternative to its much-used contactless Octopus card.

Open-Loop Payments Connected with Campus ID Cards Not to be Included in Apple Wallet

NFC TIMES Exclusive – NFC-based student ID cards provisioned to Apple Wallet beginning this fall won’t include the open-loop debit payments that are often part of plastic student ID cards, NFC Times has learned.