In this article, there’s speculation about Apple’s plans to seed the acceptance side of the NFC world it envisions. Its plan? Give or massively subsidize payments-enabled, NFC-equipped iPods or iPhones for the small merchant so they can accept NFC payments from consumers wielding Apple’s mobile devices.
I’ve written before about the enormous economies of scale Apple enjoys, building devices in volumes an order of magnitude higher, and more, over what any dedicated POS terminal manufacturer can hope to produce.
As NFC becomes a ubiquitous smartphone capability –where every device is capable of making and receiving a payment –the Square proposition may become less compelling. It will have to compete on its services and that will be very challenging given Apple’s proven capabilities.
Apple is famously secretive about its plans, but its patent activity is out there for all to see. Here’s a list from Near Field Communications World:
While there has still been no official word from Apple regarding any plans to include NFC in future devices, a barrage of NFC-related patent applications were published in 2010 that show the company has a clear business model in place for NFC. The patent applications include:
- An NFC-based mobile payments service that lets consumers make payments to merchants and other consumers via a credit or debit card, directly from their bank account or using credit stored in their iTunes account.
- The ‘iPay, iBuy and iCoupons’ patents, describing a comprehensive mobile payments, mobile commerce and mobile marketing business based around an NFC-enabled iPhone.
Products+ , an NFC-based product marketing and promotions application.
- An airline ticketing and boarding pass application that describes an unmanned, automated airport ticketing and baggage counter kiosk and introduces the concept of an automated security checking process where users of the iTravel app could process themselves through the security clearance system and check themselves in at the boarding gate.
- The Grab & Go patent, designed to make it easy for customers to transfer files between devices such as the Mac, iPhone and Apple TV.
- An NFC-enabled iPod, games controller, TV and iPhone.
- An NFC-based concert, entertainment and sports venue ticketing application that includes exclusive bonus features for users of Apple’s service.
Read more at Near Field Communications World: http://www.nearfieldcommunicationsworld.com/2011/01/25/35739/apple-planning-to-offer-merchants-low-cost-nfc-payments-terminals/