Come September 9 and Apple could finally kickstart a key smartphone trend that others have tried to crack for a few years now. Apple is finally turning the iPhone into a mobile wallet with which users will be able to pay for things at stores and elsewhere instead of swiping their credit cards.
The reports come after multiple leaks suggest the next iPhone will have an NFC chip from NXP, which will make the iPhone 6 the first iPhone to come with NFC connectivity. Apple has resisted adding NFC to the iPhone all these years even when its Android rivals have implemented the wireless near field communication technology and have fruitlessly tried to tout it as a marketing feature to pair with other devices and transfer files.
Google too has tried using NFC in Android smartphones paired with the “Google Wallet” to woo merchants to accept it as a credit card alternative. The feature, however, has failed to take off and one of the major reasons is the sheer dominance of the iPhone in the US.
Apple’s iWallet could change the scenario and finally kickstart the mobile wallet revolution with merchants more willing to implement it than they were with Google’s earlier attempt. An earlier Apple patent suggests that the user’s information will be stored in a secure environment in the device itself, much like how the TouchID fingerprint sensor works on the iPhone 5S. The security features on TouchID could have helped Apple convince American Express, Visa and Mastercard to go ahead with the mobile wallet feature.
Having said that, the iWallet feature is unlikely to have any impact in India where Apple doesn’t figure in the top five smartphone vendors and Android smartphones dominate with more than two-thirds of smartphone shipments. With over 80 percent of all smartphone shipped priced under $200 and still a 71 percent feature phone market, there just isn’t enough volume to excite merchants and banks.