Is Apple Working On A Contactless iPhone Payment System?

After Apple recently hired an expert in near field communication (NFC) technology, there is speculation that Apple could be working on a contactless payment system for its iPhone. Benjamin Vigier has been working with near field communication technology since 2004. Vigier is now the new product manager for mobile commerce at Apple.

Most recently, Vigier was the product manager for mobile wallet, payment and NFC at mFoundry. At mFoundry, Vigier conceived and managed the PayPal Mobile service and Starbucks' barcode-based mobile payments service. He also has worked on developing mobile wallet applications for two top US mobile network operators as well as a NFC wallet application for a top three US bank. In addition to these experiences, Vigier has been responsible for NFC activities at French mobile network operator Bouygues Telecom and flash memory manufacturer SanDisk.

Apple has filed a handful of NFC-related patent applications over the last few months including patents for iPay, iBuy, and iCoupons, a mobile commerce and mobile marketing business that deals with a NFC-enabled iPhone. A few more NFC-related patents include:

  • A NFC-based mobile payment service that would enable customers to pay merchants and other customers using a credit or debit card, bank account, or iTunes credit.
  • An airline ticketing and boarding pass application that would enable travelers to process themselves through security clearance and check themselves in at a boarding gate.
  • A Grab & Go patent that would make it easy to transfer files between devices.
  • A NFC-enabled iPod, game controller, TV, and iPhone.

It's unknown what mobile commerce products Vigier will be working on, but based on the fact that Apple hired Vigier, we have to think the company is interested in taking some of these patent applications and turning them into reality.