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

Exclusive: What Tokenization Fees from Visa Might Look Like for Issuers

NFC TIMES Exclusive – While Visa has said it is waiving tokenization fees for issuers that join its commercial tokenization hub, VDEP, and use its Visa Token Service, some observers believe the network will charge the fees sooner or later.

Sony Launches Support for FeliCa Technology on HCE Devices, Though Few Handsets Available Yet

NFC TIMES Exclusive – Japan’s Sony Corp. is supporting host card emulation with its proprietary FeliCa contactless technology, which could enable service providers to avoid the need for secure elements in rolling out FeliCa-based applications on NFC phones.

Samsung Semiconductor Faces Challenges in Rolling Out Contactless-Payments Service for Wearables

NFC TIMES Exclusive Insight – Samsung Semiconductor believes there is room for yet another closed-loop payments service, one that enables consumers to pay with contactless wearables devices that carry its dual-interface chips.

Android Pay Launches in Belgium, While State-Owned Belfius Bank Takes Two-Staged Approach to Own HCE Rollout

NFC TIMES Exclusive – Two of the largest banks in Belgium have launched, or are planning to launch, HCE-based mobile payments but chose different approaches: BNP Paribas Fortis decided to first launch with Android Pay, while state-owned Belfius Bank plans to enable the service within its mobile-banking app.

Serbia's KomBank Seeks to Increase Mobile Banking Users with HCE Service

NFC TIMES Exclusive – Komercijalna banka Beograd, known as KomBank, one of Serbia’s largest banks, incorporated a host-card-emulation-based mobile payment service into its mobile banking app to increase awareness and use of the app, Slobodan Lukić, the bank's deputy director of the payment cards division told NFC Times.

Apple Pay Launches in Ireland and Gears Up in Italy; but Only One Major Bank On Board So Far in Each Country

NFC Times Exclusive Insight – Apple has expanded its mobile payments service to another small market, with its launch Tuesday in Ireland, but is preparing to launch in a much larger market, Italy.

Taiwan’s Largest Transit Ticketing Service Plans Bluetooth-Enabled Mobile Ticketing, Though Needs Regulatory Approval

NFC TIMES Exclusive – Taiwan’s EasyCard Corp., the operator of the country’s largest closed-loop transit and retail payments service, is working with a provider of Bluetooth-enabled mobile payments technology to offer customers an NFC-like experience to pay for rides and purchases in stores.

Australian Domestic Debit Network Nears Launch of Token Service Provider to Compete with Visa and Mastercard

NFC TIMES Exclusive – Australia’s largest domestic debit network, eftpos, plans to launch its overdue tokenization service commercially by the second quarter, likely serving at least one of the country’s big four banks for its HCE mobile wallet and one or more of the “Pays” wallets, such as Android Pay and possibly Apple Pay, NFC Times has learned.

Certification Issues and Legal Battle Delay Launch of Kerv Ring; Wearables Maker Says Ring Ready

NFC TIMES Exclusive – After two years addressing design, certification and legal issues, UK-based start-up Kerv Wearables says it’s finally ready to launch its NFC-enabled ring.

Exclusive: Why are Some of the Largest U.S. Merchants Balking at Supporting NFC?

NFC TIMES Exclusive – While the base of contactless point-of-sale terminals in the U.S. has grown substantially over the past two and a half years, some of the country’s largest merchants continue to resist the idea of accepting such NFC wallets as Apple Pay and Android Pay.

Exclusive: Taiwanese Banks to Pay Apple Cut of Transaction Fees on Par with U.S.

NFC TIMES Exclusive – TAIPEI, Taiwan: Apple will collect a cut of transaction fees from Taiwanese banks on credit card transactions that is around the same level as the tech giant takes from U.S. credit card issuers, when Apple Pay launches in Taiwan, expected later this month, NFC Times has learned.

Analysis: Why QR Codes are Challenging NFC to Enable Mobile Payments

NFC TIMES Exclusive – Despite the resurgence in demand for NFC technology with the launch of Apple Pay in 2014, followed by other NFC-enabled “Pays” wallets and the separate rollout of HCE technology by Google, use of QR codes for mobile payments continues to grow in popularity globally.