Oct 19, 2012

Will the lack of NFC in iPhone 5 prevent mobile payment from catching on?

I know that there is Google Wallet and a couple of other companies that are trying to get mobile payment off the ground.  Having seen the use of smartphones as payment devices in Europe, I know that it is a workable model. Apple's decision not to include NFC seems like a pretty big set-back to the technology going truly mainstream. Will the "digital wallet" ever reach general use if Apple doesn't get on board the NFC train?


I think lack of an agreed upon standard is a bigger problem.  There are ways to make payments with the iPhone that don't use NFC.  As jimlynch pointed out, Apple does have "their Passbook thing".  There are more smartphones, aside from iPhones, that are coming out with NFC, and some of those are midrange devices, such as the LG Optimus Elite, so NFC is becoming somewhat more common.  Until there is a standard for payment that approaches the ubiquity of MasterCard or Visa, I would expect smartphone based payment to be something of a niche category.  It's kind of a chicken and egg thing - which is needed first, adoption of the technology by merchants, or spread of the technology among consumers who will use it?  I'm not sure, but I think if you get either one in place, the other will follow.

I doubt Apple will bother until there are more businesses that use it. Plus they have their Passbook thing in iOS. So right now they have very little motivation to bother with it. I don't think most Apple customers care either, given the enormous sales of the iPhone 5 and iPad.

I think NFC just isn't ready for prime time, and Apple knows it.
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