Rumors of an iPhone with support for near field communication (NFC) mobile payments have been swirling for some time now. However, the closest that Apple has come to introducing such a product is its new Passbook app in iOS 6 (shown above), which holds things like a user's loyalty cards and tickets but not credit or debit card information. A new Wall Street Journal report claims to have details on the approach that Apple has been taking when it comes to mobile payments and how the company has been investigating a possible entry into that arena.
According to the WSJ, Apple engineers and executives began looking into a way to implement mobile payments with the iPhone last year, around the same time that Google Wallet debuted. A group of Apple employees reportedly considering whether the company should create a new service that'd build several payment methods into the iPhone or if developing its own payment network would be a better option. Scott Forstall, Apple's SVP of iOS Software, and his team began thinking up ways to create a "wallet app" and thought about a way that Apple could help to make direct payments to merchants, but that idea was allegedly shot down. Apple is also said to have considered working with existing payment services and taking a cut of each transaction.
Apple's iPhone hardware team has also investigated ways to allow users to make payments with their handsets, including both Bluetooth and NFC. However, there were concerns within Apple about both the security of NFC tech and the affect that an NFC chip could have on an iPhone's battery life. Slow retailer adoption of NFC tech was also an issue for Apple execs.
There's no question that there has been quite a bit of interest in mobile payments, with services like Google Wallet and ISIS popping up in the last year or two. It was also recently rumored that Sprint may be prepping its own mobile wallet app. Despite all that, though, mobile payments have yet to really catch on with the public. Exactly when Apple will try it's hand at mobile payments remains to be seen, but iOS 6's Passbook app could certainly help to pave the way for the introduction of such a service. How many of you are interested in making mobile payments with your phone?