The rumor mill again has picked up again on Apple (AAPL) introducing Near Field Communication technology.
NFC could transform a smartphone into an electronic wallet or passkey. But it also has the possibility of transforming Apple into a bigger force in business.
By waving an NFC-equipped iPhone at an NFC Mac, for example, the Mac will load apps, settings and data. But an NFC device also could be in effect a credit card substitute.
NFC is in wide use in Asia. It appears it is on its way to the USA.
Olga Kharif at Bloomberg quotes Richard Doherty, director of consulting firm Envisioneering Group, as saying the next version of iPhone for AT&T (T) and the iPad 2 will have NFC capabilities: Both products are likely to be introduced this year, he said, citing engineers who are working on hardware for the Apple project.
Visa (V) and MasterCard (MA), eBay (EBAY) and PayPal watch your backs. Richard Crone, who leads financial industry adviser Crone Consulting LLC, said the goal with NFC would be for Apple to get a piece of the $6.2 trillion Americans spend each year on goods and services.
Khraif reported Apple now pays credit-card processing fees on every purchase from iTunes. By encouraging consumers to use cheaper methods — such as tapping their bank accounts directly, which is how many purchases are made via PayPal — Apple could cut its own costs and those of retailers selling Apple products.
Apple declined comment on NFC. But the company has hired NFC talent and has NFC patents.
MG Siegler in TechCrunch said Apple has no choice but to adopt NFC: Google (GOOG) has introduced NFC into its Nexus S Android device. So NFC for Apple “has gone from a no-brainer to a must-do.”
Seigler said if Apple adopts NFC into its iTunes payment system: “It could change everything. It could transform Apple from the biggest technology company in the world, to the biggest company in the world, period. By far.”