All the major mobile platform companies, including Apple, are working on solutions for “contactless payments” and digital wallets — the use of a phone as a credit card. Google’s Android supports NFC, or near-field communication. Google Wallet enables payments from phones.
Everyone has been waiting for Apple to catch up. The company has a pile of patents that reference a mobile digital wallet service called “iWallet.”
An analyst this week predicted something shocking: Instead of (or in addition to) adding NFC to future iPhones, Apple will use Bluetooth 4.0 for iWallet, a story first reported on Cult of Mac by John Brownlee.
One stunning fact about this prediction is that the wireless hardware has already been deployed at scale. Every major product Apple has shipped in the past year, including the iPhone and iPad, supports Bluetooth 4.0.
All Apple needs to do to make iWallet a reality is ship an app.
Another stunning fact is that Bluetooth 4.0 has a range of over 160 feet. That means participating retail stores can function like Apple Stores — without cash registers. The point of sale can be anywhere in the store. Restaurant diners can pay from the table — without the waiter being involved.
I think Apple wants to kill the cash register. Here’s why they might succeed.