Persistent rumours that the next iPhone could feature Near Field Communications (NFC) support got a fresh layer of credence today, after a MasterCard mover and shaker dropped heavy hints about Apple's plans for future smartphones.
NFC tech enables consumers to pay for low-ticket items by swiping their handset over a reader and has been widely tipped to become a feature of an Apple phone since the iPhone 4.
In an impromptu Q&A with Fast Company, MasterCard's emerging payments head honcho Ed McLaughlin gave that chatter a boost when he said that MasterCard’s proprietorial NFC system PayPass is currently at tipping point and that all key manufacturers are currently working to get it on board their devices.
He said: “The timeline is always as rapid as it makes sense for consumers. That’s a combination of having a critical mass of the merchants, which is what you’re seeing right now, and getting devices into the hands of consumers.
“I don’t know of a handset manufacturer that isn’t in process of making sure their stuff is PayPass ready.”
Pressed on whether that includes Apple, McLaughlin didn’t answer directly but steadfastly refused to rule out the Cupertino-based tech giant and enigmatically said that when "asked by partners not to disclose them, we don't".
The prospect of NFC landing on the iPhone 5 was subsequently lent further credibility by a separate report from everyone’s favourite Apple apostles at 9 to 5 Mac.
According to a “well-connected” developer cited by the site, Apple engineers are “heavy into NFC” right now.
The dev also claimed that conversations on the subject with the Cupertino C.A workers had prompted him to create an app that hinges on NFC support in anticipation of contactless payment tech coming to an iPhone soon.