Apple inks deal with fingerprint security startup Microlatch

Apple has signed a deal that may pave the way for fingerprint security in NFC payments, something the Cupertino giant left out of the latest iteration of the iPhone, reports an Australian newspaper.
Written by Zack Whittaker, Contributor

Despite leaving out near-field communications (NFC) technology -- commonly used for close-proximity wireless payments -- out of the latest iPhone 5, an deal signed between Apple and an Australian startup could see the technology brought to the technology giant's future devices. 

Credit: Scott Stein/CNET

First reported by The Australian, the deal will see five-year old start-up Microlatch work with Apple, which will allow the technology giant to develop fingerprint technology for use in NFC applications.

Sydney, Australia-based Microlatch owns patents and technologies that meet banking security standards that allows fingerprints and biometrics to be processed on the device without the need for transmission or storage. Former banking chief and current Microlatch chief executive David Murray described the process as "self-registering," according to the newspaper.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, although ZDNet has put in questions to both Microlatch and Apple and will update if hear back.

Some were disappointed by Apple's unwillingness to include NFC in its latest smartphone. NFC, which is still in industry development and not yet in widespread use, was thought to have not been included in the iPhone 5 -- just as 4G LTE technology was left out of the iPhone 4S -- because the technology was still in its infancy.

But Apple, which tends to release a new phone every year, could be making a punt to include the wireless payments technology in the next iPhone, which will likely be released in 2013. 

Apple acquired fingerprint sensor maker AuthenTec in July for $356 million, leading to suggestions that the then-upcoming and expected iPhone 5 would include a fingerprint sensor for additional security. But the purchase sparked a reported "state of panic" among PC makers such as Dell, HP, and Lenovo, among others, after AuthenTec was said to be preparing to cut off existing PC-building customers.

According to Reuters, an Apple-filed regulatory filing hinted at the development of "a 2D fingerprint sensor for Apple that is suitable for use in an Apple product," but did not state whether this would be an iOS-powered mobile device, such as the iPhone or the iPad, or a Mac computer.

Putting the hardware purchase and part-software, part-patent agreement together almost certainly suggests that Apple is working on implementing fingerprint technology into one or more of its mobile products. 

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