It looks like Apple is joining the ranks of the Nexus S and will include mobile wallet technology in the iPhone 5.
Richard Doherty, director of the consulting firm Envisioneering Group, told Bloomberg today that the next-generation iPad and iPhone will both include near-field communication technology. Doherty cited engineers that he personally knows who are working on the project.
He said that Apple could start its own mobile payment service for use at retail stores as early as mid-2011, around the time when the iPhone 5 is expected to launch. For this service iTunes could be revamped to include credit card features like loyalty credits and points earned through transactions.
“Using the service, customers could walk into a store or restaurant and make payments straight from an iPad or iPhone,” the report said. “They could also receive loyalty rewards and credits for purchases, such as when referring a friend, Doherty said.”
He claimed that Apple has already built a prototype payment terminal intended for small businesses “such as hairdressers and mom-and-pop stores.” He added that Apple may “heavily” subsidize the hardware, or even give it away for free to encourage rapid adoption and boost sales of NFC-equipped iPhones and iPads.