iPhone 5 to get iWallet NFC

NFC wireless payments could be coming to Apple soon

The iPhone 5 is likely to come packing NFC capabilities to keep up with Google's NFC-toting Galaxy Nexus. But it looks like Apple will also mount a challenge to Google Wallet with its own iWallet NFC payment system. The revelation comes from an interview with MasterCard boss Ed McLaughlin in an interview with Fast Company.

Apple has already shown its intentions to move into wireless payments when it introduced EasyPay systems in US Apple stores. Now McLaughlin has hinted that it will join the NFC fray, saying he doesn’t know of a company that isn’t in the process of making their gadgets PayPass ready. Although he declined to comment on Apple's specific plans, he also didn't deny the company's involvement, fuelling speculation that the Cupertino-based iPhone maker is indeed developing an NFC payment system, probably using its secure and well established Apple ID and iTunes payment systems as a back end.

"Um, there are...like I say, [I don't know of] any handset maker out there," McLaughlin said. "Now, when we have discussions with our partners, and they ask us not to disclose them, we don't."

Fifteen per cent of all payments are predicted to be made via a mobile device by next year. That'd mean the tipped summer 2012 iPhone 5 release would fit nicely into the contactless payment window, with Apple's involvement giving much-needed publicity to NFC's slow rise to ubiquity.

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