MasterCard hints that Apple is on board for contactless NFC payments

Apple NFC (Near Field Communication) rumors have been reported for over a year now, and while the iPhone 4S shipped without RFID technology of any kind, a recent interview with MasterCard's Ed McLaughlin hints Apple might still be getting into the mobile transaction game. McLaughlin said that he didn't know a handset manufacturer who wasn't working to  integrate PayPass via NFC in their phones. When prodded about Apple, Ed shied away, and said he couldn't mention partners by name, but did go on to say "Anytime someone with a major base moves forward, it advances what you're doing" when asked if Apple was a vital part of pushing contactless payments into the mainstream. Of course, stores also have to provide support on their end. McLaughlin said, "I think as merchants provide these better interfaces for consumers--a better way of transacting--I think any consumer-focused technology provider would want to take advantage of it."

We've heard plenty of rumours floating around about Apple including NFC in the next iPhone, and MasterCard themselves have been pretty aggressive in enabling it through a separate accessory. NFC was an expectation for the iPhone 4S, but seeing as there still isn't a lot of widespread support for Google Wallet, maybe it will take a big player like MasterCard to really get mobile NFC rolling. It seems like smartphone manufacturers are more than happy to put NFC in their devices, but if common sensors like PayPass aren't ubiquitous, it won't be a selling point for consumers, and those manufacturers will just cut the feature to save on manufacturing costs.

RIM is already all-in with MasterCard's NFC standard, and if Apple is too, maybe 2012 will actually end up being the year this stuff catches on. Let's put it this way - if the iPhone 5 doesn't have NFC built into it, would you consider switching platforms so you could get on the NFC payments bandwagon?

Source: Fast Company

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Simon Sage

Editor-at-very-large at Mobile Nations, gamer, giant.

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Reader comments

MasterCard hints that Apple is on board for contactless NFC payments


Re: "Let’s put it this way – if the iPhone 5 doesn’t have NFC built into it, would you consider switching platforms so you could get on the NFC payments bandwagon?"
Negative. NFC would be nice, but if the 2012 iPhone doesn't have it, it certainly wouldn't be a deal-breaker.

Thanks Dev. NFC is explained but not the RFID in the piece. Interesting topic. I see security issues though. X

As A Galaxy Nexus user (which has NFC and I installed Google Wallet on it) I am looking forward to when Apple puts NFC in the iPhone. It'll bring more NFC terminals around than what is currently available. Right now, I can use my Galaxy Nexus at a few local gas stations, Starbucks and a few vending machines (And I still get a funny looks when I use my phone and I usually have to answer a million questions about it). If Apple brought out NFC, more retailers and banks would jump on board with NFC. Come on Apple, bring out NFC on the iPhone 5!

I considered going with the Galaxy Nexus for NFC but ended up going iPhone 4S. I was disappointed when it was released without NFC myself. I'd like to see it in the next iPhone.

If I was to be asked 12 months or 18 months ago about whether NFC in phones is the way to go I would have said, Yeah.
Today, I don't think it is anywhere near as developed as it should be! In fact many of the early adopter retail locations are actually removing the equipment because it just doesn't have the reliability.
I tried it in a local supermarket that still have it installed and in the end had to slide the card, I beat the heck out of the reader with the card trying to get a response but with a dozen angry old ladies throwing a fit because I was delaying them writing out their checks to pay for their groceries i thought I had better give up on it.
I certainly wouldn't want to have to beat the heck out of a terminal with an iPhone trying to get it to work.
If the iPhone were to have the functionality I think that while I would set it up I doubt I would use it unless it just happened to be in my hand and convenient to use and the service was of course available.
Right now though, for the most part I can swipe the card and not even have to sign the screen or a piece of paper and take the receipt and go, just as easy as trying to get a NFC receiver to recognize the card.

I don't believe NFC will be a driver for phone decisions initially, but I do believe it will impact the habits of a significant number of people. If I can run out of the house with my phone and be able to purchase something should I need to without having to carry my wallet that's big. It will help tip people that are not yet on smartphones to make the move. From Apple's perspective, if they get any kind of spiff off the transaction, it's a no-brainer. Maybe not big in 2012, but the phones still around in 2013 will more than pay for the cost of incorporating the technology.