Google already offers Google Wallet payments via Android phones and Microsoft is set to launch its own digital-wallet service, but Apple isn't yet willing to enable credit card payments via the iPhone due to concerns about security.
Apple will launch Passbook alongside iOS 6 this autumn, as outlined in our 30 reasons you need iOS 6 feature, the system will provide an integrated iOS solution that holds all of you concert ticket purchases, boarding cards, and so on in one Apple app. These can then be accessed from the Home screen, or inside the app itself. What Passbook lacks is the option to link to credit or debit cards, so consumers can't use it to replace their wallets.
Reports claim that Apple does want to integrate payments, however, the company is holding back, waiting for other mobile manufacturers to test the water.
According to a Wall Street Journal report, Apple's head of iPhone software Scott Forstall is interested in providing the technology for NFC (Near Field Communication) payments via the iPhone. WSJ sources claim Forstall's engineering team has been studying NFC technologies for over-the-air payments and have patented some NFC ideas (a patent, pictured, was awarded in March).
NFC is a short-range high frequency wireless communication technology that enables the exchange of data between devices up to 10cm apart, the set up time is significantly faster than Bluetooth, it doesn't require battery power, and it is considered more secure because of its shorter range.
However, according to reports, Apple said to be concerned that squeezing in the required chip and a new antenna may severely impact the iPhone's battery life.
Apple is also concerned about whether NFC technology is secure enough, according to reports. Apple chief financial officer Peter Oppenheimer is said to have questioned whether there was newer secure technology that employed the Internet rather than use NFC, according to the WSJ sources.
Apple head of world-wide marketing Phil Schiller is also said to be worried that if Apple facilitated credit-card payments on the iPhone consumers might blame Apple if they had a bad experience.
Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster believes Apple is biding its time before entering the mobile payment market because they are comfortable letting the other mobile companies make the mistakes first. "They let their competitors do their market research for them," he said.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.