SEC filing fans rumors of mobile wallet for iPhone 5

By , Network World |  Mobile & Wireless, Apple, iPhone 5

Brian clearly believes that Apple's desire to quickly consummate the deal reveals that the AuthenTec fingerprint sensor will be included in the new iPhone and other Apple products expected to be announced this fall.

This may be possible. But without knowing Apple's longer-term plans for the iPhone, nor the intricacies of incorporating new technologies into the Apple supply chain and manufacturing processes, these arguments could just as well fit for the introduction of a more fully developed, secure, wireless mobile commerce capability in 2013, with the "iPhone 6." It might even be possible to add the fingerprint sensor for limited uses on iPhone 5, and expand on those capabilities more fully in 2013 and later.

There have been rumors and speculation for well over a year that Apple was about to introduce a mobile digital wallet, and add an NFC radio to the next iPhone. At the unveiling in June of iOS 6, Apple emphasized a new application called Passbook, which is a central storage area for loyalty cards, tickets and coupons that today fit into a physical wallet. A number of pundits have speculated that Apple plans to develop Passbook into a full-blown digital wallet, using the AuthenTec fingerprint sensor as the biometric authentication for user identity and for payment or charge authorizations.

But mobile commerce isn't as simple as writing a native app for photo sharing: It's set of relationships between separate parties, at both the point-of-sale (or -action) and at the back end for billing, clearing and debiting/crediting accounts. And making sure these relationships "just work" in a simple and reliable way for the end user is only one part of it. Securing each of these interrelationships is equally complex. And mobile transactions today remain a tiny fraction of those done with credit and debit cards, not to mention cash.

And Apple clearly has options on rolling out these technologies: It may indeed present iPhone 5 with a fingerprint sensor, but initially it may be "limited" to functions that are not related to a digital wallet: It could be used to unlock the phone or log into an iTunes account; or for using the phone as a secure electronic "key" for wireless door entry, or interacting with a variety of smart tags.

That would give Apple another year more or less to develop a more mature mobile wallet capability, test it with the evolving mobile payments infrastructure, and work out the supply chain and manufacturing issues. And maybe more importantly, it would give the majority of consumers, not just early adopters, another year to decide about, and trust, mobile commerce.


Originally published on Network World |  Click here to read the original story.
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