Apple 'holding back' on entering NFC mobile payment game

WSJ article claims Passbook app was deliberately pared back

Apple  holding back  on entering NFC mobile payment game

Apple has adopted a wait an see attitude towards mobile payments after deep-rooted discussions within the company, according to the Wall Street Journal.

While Google Wallet and credit card companies like Visa, Mastercard and Barclaycard forge ahead with their NFC-based solutions, Apple is yet to enter that arena.

The WSJ reports that taking on the emerging market was seriously discussed, but for now the company opted with to go with the Passbook app - launched within iOS 6 at WWDC last month.

Passbook will users to collate their vouchers, coupons, plane tickets and store cards, but does not offer any immeditate indication that a mobile payments service like Google Wallet will be launched.

Ambitions scaled back, for now

The article, paraphrasing an unnamed Apple executive, says the company wanted to take advantage of the 400m credit cards registered to iTunes, with a view to creating Apple's own payment network or teaming up with an existing service and taking a cut.

Scott Forstall's iOS software development team were encouraged to "brainstorm a comprehensive wallet app," but amibtions were eventually scaled back.

Beyond software, the company also investigated new NFC technologies, but decided at this point that the chips would be too great a drain on the iPhone's battery life.

When the mobile payment discussions came to an executive review in early 2012, many "baulked" at the idea, amid further fears over slow vendor adoption, and we ended up with Passbook.

Of course, between now and the final launch of iOS 6, expected this autumn, we could see a new version of Passbook to complement an NFC-enabled iPhone 5 device, kick-starting Apple's entry into the arena. For now, it's a definite wait and see.

However, It's likely to happen sooner rather than later, as analyst Gene Munster says: "They let their competitors do their market research for them."

Via: WSJ