Bloomberg has filed a report stating that Apple plans to add NFC support to the iPhone 5 and iPad 2 in order to support mobile payments with both hardware and software integration.
Apple had previously hired Benjamin Vigier to head up a new Mobile Commerce group last year in order to explore ways to integrate NFC into Apple hardware. Should the timeline prove correct, the next iPad would mark the debut of NFC and a new loyalty system also mentioned in the report tied to iTunes.
In simple terms, NFC is a short range radio platform that can transmit information. The technology is meant to be implemented in cellphones. Closer to the US, Bank of America, Mastercard and Nokia have conducted trials of or have deployed NFC-based payment services with varying degress of success.
Other major manufacturers, conglomerates and platforms have embraced NFC to varying degrees, with Google embracing NFC via the Nexus S with built-in hardware and the forthcoming Isis transaction platform being launched by T-Mobile, Verizon and AT&T.
The biggest obstacle to widespread adoption of NFC as a widespread transaction platform lies in the standardization and ubiquity of the service. Should the report pan out, Apple could do for NFC what it did for mobile web browsing and mobile data access with the iPhone, at least in the US.