It was no surprise that the iPhone 5S included a fingerprint scanner, the rumors had been circulating for months prior to its release and the acquisition of AuthenTec pointed to the eventual inclusion.
For the iPhone 6 the latest it that is will finally include near field communication, a secure element and forgo host-card emulation.
Martin Cox, global head of sales at Bell ID, says that Apple will attempt to bypass the mobile operators and the banks with its Apple Wallet. This system will use the embedded secure element and the payment card that is linked to a consumer’s iTunes account.
“If this is true, then Apple has a unique solution that does not require them to partner with either issuers or mobile network operators,” Cox says. “That would mean no bank wallet, no relationship with issuers and no tie up with the telcos. Surprise, surprise Apple is apparently going to launch a solution that is focused purely on Apple.”
This has been tried before with mixed results, Cox says. Blackberry and Samsung tired this route but have since eased off. “In both cases, the device manufacturer had a solution that could cut the mobile network operators out of the equation but seemingly chose not to pursue it. Apple would appear to be taking this a step further by using their iTunes card records to also circumvent the banks,” Cox explains.
Mobile network operators would have the option to not sell the iPhone, but that’s unlikely.
Having followed the development of the iPhone since the beginning I have mixed feeling about whether the handset will include NFC. Reports indicate that Apple seems to be putting a lot of energy behind a wallet app and Bluetooth Low Energy.
With the success of Starbucks and apps that use a QR code that require no additional hardware I don’t know why Apple would go with the technology now when there’s still not a lot of momentum behind it. That said, I think it’s a coin toss of whether the iPhone 6 will include NFC. I won’t be surprised either way but what I think might be more likely is a wallet app that uses bar codes and can be scanned at the point of sales.