Today only a small selection of mobile devices running the Android operating system are capable of conducting NFC mobile wallet payments, however, rumors have been circulating for months that Apple’s iPhone 5 will include Near Field Communication technology. More recently, and thanks to a leaked video, it has been confirmed that the Windows Phone 8 OS will include NFC functionality to support mobile payments and mobile wallets.
Initially there were rumors that Apple would include Near Field Communication technology in their iPhone 4S, but this never materialized and the same rumor was then applied to their next expected release, the iPhone 5. In late January this rumor gained some traction when an unnamed and “well-connected” app developer interviewed at the Macworld conference said Apple’s software engineers are “heavy into NFC,” and that he was building an app that utilizes NFC technology.
In early February a leaked video hosted by Microsoft SVP Joe Belifore gave many details about the upcoming Windows 8 operating system using NFC technology, the video was intended for Microsoft’s partners at Nokia. Paul Thurrott, a well-known Windows expert and news editor for Windows IT Pro magazine, later discussed and independently confirmed some of the details leaked in the Windows Phone 8 video.
As it pertains to mobile payments, the biggest news confirmed by Thurrott following the video leak is that Windows Phone 8 will have NFC capabilities to support secure payment and “an integrated Wallet experience.” Thurrot did not go into specifics here, but in the original video it was elaborated that the mobile wallet experience on Windows Phone 8 would either be controlled with the Secure Element on the device’s SIM card or through using hardware in the device itself.
Many would agree that the biggest factor in determining the success of mobile contactless payments is consumer adoption, which is very limited in the United States today. For a U.S. consumer to initiate a mobile NFC transaction at the point-of-sale today they are limited to Google Wallet and only a small number of devices offered by two wireless carriers. But with more NFC-based mobile wallets scheduled to launch this year, the next iPhone possibly including NFC capabilities and Windows Phone 8 likely supporting NFC technology as well, the adoption of mobile payments should greatly increase with the growth in NFC-enabled mobile device hardware, software and carrier choices available to consumers.
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