The executive didn’t confirm anything outright when asked about NFC and Apple, citing confidentiality agreements:
“I don’t know of a handset manufacturer that isn’t in process of making sure their stuff is PayPass [MasterCard's wireless payment solution] ready.”
So that would include Apple then?
“Um, there are…like I say, [I don't know of] any handset maker out there,” McLaughlin says. “Now, when we have discussions with our partners, and they ask us not to disclose them, we don’t.”
I asked whether the contactless payments industry needs Apple to hit critical mass.
“Well, anytime someone with a major base moves forward, it advances what you’re doing. So of course,” McLaughlin says.
But how important is it that Apple in particular enters the game?
“I look at it the other way,” answers McLaughlin, who did not mention “Apple” even once by name. “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.”
Additionally 9 to 5 Mac spoke with a developer at Macworld who seems to be fairly confident about NFC making it to the next iPhone:
We had some time to talk to a well-connected developer at Macworld who was building an app that— among other capabilities— includes NFC reading for the purpose of mobile transactions. We were obviously curious why they would do that, noting that third party NFC readers for iPhone were not popular (aside from the recently announced Moneto, above). The developer told us that he had no hardware knowledge, but he had spoken to Apple iOS engineers on multiple occasions, and they are “heavy into NFC.”
I asked how confident he was, and he said, “Enough to bet the app development on.”
Numerous rumors about the fifth generation iPhone coming with an NFC chip were proved wrong, when Apple launched the iPhone 4S without NFC support. It did, however, take a step forward in the offline payments space by introducing the Apple Store 2.0 app, which allowed customers to self-checkout via an “EasyPay” mechanism.
As we noted earlier:
If Apple can make its 200 million credit card holding customers comfortable with the idea of using their iTunes account for real world purchases, NFC would just be another technology that works behind the scenes.
Right now Apple’s payment solution is only being used in Apple Stores, and if an NFC equipped iPhone is launched in the near future, Apple needs to start talking with potential partners and convince them to support its payment solution. And this is what the company seems to be doing, as evident from the MasterCard exec’s interview.