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

Denmark’s Largest Bank Plans to Expand Reach of Its Growing MobilePay Wallet; Continues to Favor BLE over NFC and QR Codes

NFC TIMES Exclusive –  Danske Bank’s MobilePay service in Denmark is one of the few mobile-wallet success stories globally, though on a small scale. Now the bank is planning to expand to other Nordic countries and seeks to continue to use BLE technology, not NFC, to enable the in-store piece of its mobile payments service.

Despite Launch of Three Major ‘Pays’ in Taiwan, Visa Plans to Also Support QR Code Payments on Island

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Visa says it plans to support QR code-based mobile payments late next year in Taiwan–a market where all three major “Pays” wallets have launched supporting Visa-branded cards with NFC.

Apple Tag Reading Will Not be as Open as Android; Could Create Problems for User Experience Say Some Tag Experts

NFC TIMES Exclusive – While NFC tag suppliers and other NFC backers rejoiced over Apple’s recent announcement that it would support NFC tag reading with its next mobile operating system, iOS 11, early indications are that tag reading with Apple NFC devices will not be as open as with Android devices, and the user experience will not be as simple.

Apple Takes Another Small Step to Offer More Value-Added Services for Apple Pay Users

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Some U.S. restaurant chains plan to integrate their white-label loyalty platform with Apple Pay by the end of the year, and the program will use the NFC interface to enable users to tap to pay and collect or redeem loyalty points with as little as one tap, NFC Times has learned.

Study: Merchants Could Boost Sales by Easing Fears Over Digital Security

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – A survey conducted by American Express suggests that U.S. merchants could increase their online sales by taking steps to enhance the security of customers' information.

Despite False Starts, Focus on Mobile Transit Ticketing Continues in China

NFC TIMES Exclusive ­– Chinese payments and mobile companies continue to look for ways to enable transit ticketing with smartphones, with projects in progress or expected using host card emulation, embedded secure elements and possibly even another contactless SIM from China Mobile, NFC Times has learned.

Belgium’s Belfius Bank Fully Launches HCE Mobile Payments Service

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Belgium’s Belfius Bank said it signed up 25,000 users within a three-week period recently for its HCE-enabled mobile payments service that it has launched as part of its mobile-banking app.

EU Antitrust Regulators Launch In-Depth Investigation into Qualcomm’s Planned NXP Acquisition

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – European Union antitrust regulators have launched an in-depth review of Qualcomm’s planned $47 billion acquisition of NXP Semiconductors, the largest supplier of NFC controllers and secure elements globally.

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.