The iPhone 6, which will probably be unveiled at Apple's forthcoming product launch on 9 September, is likely to feature pay-by-touch capabilities, according to a report in the Financial Times.
It has been known for some time that Apple is interested in expanding the capabilities of its devices into the area of mobile payments, functionality that is already available in rival vendors' products. In April Computing reported that Apple was hiring senior staff to take on the mobile payments challenge.
"The mobile payments area in general is one that we've been intrigued with, and that was one of the thoughts behind the Touch ID," CEO Tim Cook said at the time, referring to the fingerprint recognition feature in the iPhone 5.
Apple has now taken concrete steps to achieve this goal, reports the FT, by working on a chip that will allow such pay-by-touch functionality. The secure near-field communication (NFC) chips are expected be produced by Dutch manufacturer NXP, although neither company has yet commented on the reports.
NFC functionality, which allows devices to communicate by bringing them within a few millimeters of each other (or touching), is already available in many popular smartphones, including models by Nokia and Samsung, and mobile payments have taken off in some markets such as Japan. But the technology has largely failed to displace the plastic card in the way that many had predicted, especially in the USA, where consumers have remained resistant to this method of payment.
However, with Apple's smartphones disproportionately popular in the US, this move by the company could, analysts believe, kick-start NFC payments in one of the biggest markets, prompting shops, transport hubs and entertainment venues to start providing payment terminals and other necessary infrastructure.
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