More Evidence of "e-wallet" Capabilities in iPhone 5
A couple of new job listings
on Apple's website are firming up rumors that Apple will be including so-called "e-wallet" capabilities using Near Field Communications (NFC) technology on upcoming iOS devices. The positions - for a Hardware Test Engineer and a Manager of Global Payment Platforms - indicate that development on both the technical and business aspects is near completion.
As Nick reported on Tuesday
, there's growing evidence that Apple is working on a PayPal-like service that would use radio-frequency identifier (RFID) chips built into iOS devices to allow them to act as electronic wallets: you would just wave your iPhone at a reader, and money would be immediately transferred out of your account. Smartphones like Google's Nexus S
already support NFC, though the readers are still rare in stores. Apple's apparently been at work on this for some time, though: Mike reported last year about how they had hired an NFC expert
to develop this technology.
One of the newly-posted job listings seeks a senior hardware automated test engineer
with an advanced degree in electrical engineering who is expected to be as "comfortable doing theoretical work and as working with a soldering iron." This super-tech would have competencies in a number of fields including RF, which indicates that work on the NFC technology is at or near the testing stage, ready for inclusion in this year's iPhone and iPad.
The ad for the Global Payments manager
is looking for someone that will "contribute to the analysis and development of new payment types," and it's difficult to imagine what a "new payment type" could be other than NFC (unless Apple is going to be printing its own currency or something). The report earlier this week had suggested Apple was looking to run its new e-wallet system through a version of the iTunes Store, processing payments directly from users' bank accounts rather than going through credit card companies which charge a fee for every transaction.
While Apple is obviously looking at the economic benefits of NFC, the technology has many other applications. For example, Bluetooth devices could be paired much more quickly - in less than a tenth of a second - by using NFC rather than having to configure both devices in Bluetooth. NFC can also be used to replace airline or concert tickets, as identification, or in place of a physical house and car key. Apple's inclusion of NFC in its popular devices is likely to spur accelerated development of NFC, so new applications will doubtless emerge over time.