Eric Schmidt Hints Apple Will Have NFC “Very Soon”

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Google’s Eric Schmidt may have just pre-announced the iPhone with NFC.

Speaking at The Wall Street Journal‘s All Things D conference, he said Android had NFC now, but “everyone else will have it very soon.”

Scmidt didn’t mention Apple, but his meaning was clear. The era of mobile payments with smartphones is upon us. Schmidt is a former member of Apple’s board of directors.

Near Field Communications (NFC) is a wireless standard that will turn mobile smartphones into electronic wallets and keychains. It has been rumored on the iPhone for years, of course, but does “very soon” mean next Monday when Steve Jobs takes to the stage at WWDC?

Schmidt made the comment while Google’s Groupon competitor was being demoed on stage. Google on Wednesday is rolling out a Groupon competitor that integrates Google Offers with NFC payments on an Android phone. Get the deal on your computer, and it shows up in Google Wallet on your Android phone. You can then use the phone to get the deal at the merchant (which presumably has to have an NFC point-of-sale terminal).

The system looks pretty nifty, and is a lot easier than printing out a coupon or barcode. As the WSJ’s Walt Mossberg noted, “If only Groupon made its own cell phones.”

Google Offers is rolling out tomorrow in Portland, followed by New York and San Francisco “this summer,” Schmidt said.

Last year, Google tried and failed to buy Groupon for $6 billion.

Who is excited about NFC coming to the iPhone? I can’t wait to ditch my wallet.