commentary Apple has today launched the newest iteration of its iPhone, the 4S, without an integrated near-field communications (NFC) chip for payments. But don't panic; it won't stall the adoption of mobile payments.
The Apple iPhone 4S launched in the US this morning to mixed reactions. The Cupertino company revamped the internal components of the device to deliver a faster processor and a bigger graphics punch, but the rumoured NFC chip was nowhere to be found.
Yet, Apple's decision to leave NFC by the wayside for now doesn't mean that mobile operators, banks and merchants will drop their NFC payment dreams, despite PayPal's concerns that an iPhone-less NFC market is a dead market.
Case manufacturers like Device Fidelity and other sticker-based NFC vendors can partner with banks and telcos to create a three-pronged partnership that would be unchallenged by Apple.
One such example is the Commonwealth Bank's case-based deployment of NFC mobile wallet technology.
It is understood that the cases would be powered by a microSD card programmed with a customer's banking details, which would be inserted into a phone case, complete with an in-built contactless payment chip.
Considering that the new iPhone 4S is exactly the same size as its predecessor, the iPhone 4, plans for such a roll-out can continue without incident.
Westpac is also trialling external NFC for mobile payments, giving 50 of its Sydney and Melbourne-based staff a sticker for the backs of their phones that facilitates payments via contactless card terminals.
The future of mobile wallets depends on pervasive external technology that doesn't discriminate against specific carriers, banks or handsets. The way forward for mobile payments is through an open ecosystem, not a walled Apple garden controlled by iTunes store credit.
Onward, finance sector. Bring me my mobile wallet!