Apple Set to Take Bite out of Payments? (May 19, 2014)
Apple’s recent deal with China’s UnionPay on a pair of contactless payment initiatives may be a sign that the tech giant is ready to make a major move into NFC payments, including equipping the next generation of the iPhone with NFC technology.
Under the agreement with UnionPay—first reported by Brightwire, citing sources close to the deal—Apple will enable iPhone users to download UnionPay’s NFC payment app and subsequently make contactless payments at more than 3 million POS locations throughout China. The two companies also are working together on a plan to offer mobile payments within Apple Stores, the report said.
The UnionPay partnership follows a January report by the Wall Street Journal, which claimed Apple was planning to launch a mobile wallet service for its iPhone, iPad and iTunes users. Over the past several years, Apple has steadily racked up payment-related patents—one of which was described by the company as a method of sending payment data “through various air interfaces.” And late last year, Apple began rolling out iBeacon, a low energy bluetooth (BLE) service, in its stores, enabling shoppers to use their iPhones in conjunction with the Apple Store app to access in-store shopping features.
Should Apple decide to finally make a foray into NFC—and payments at large—it could significantly alter the industry landscape. Aside from its name recognition and dedicated user base, the company already has nearly 800 million enrolled iTunes users globally and a 40 percent share of the global smartphone market.
See related stories: