Put It On The Bluetooth

7/20/2012 5:23:20 PM

If you’ve ever tried to buy anything in an Apple Store, you’ll know the company isn’t a fan of the traditional checkout.

And if you’ve being paying attention, you’ll know that Apple rolled out a new EasyPay system in its US stores last year. That technology allows customers to pay for some products using an iOS app and their Apple online store account. The idea is that you walk up to the product you want, scan its barcode with the app and are then taken into the online store to pay for it. If the item is available to take away from the shelves, you’re done. If not, the app pages an assistant to retrieve it from the stockroom.

Description: There have long been ru¬mours that Apple will add an NFC (near field communications) chip to its iOS devices so they can be used to make contactless payments in any store that supports NFC

There have long been ru­mours that Apple will add an NFC (near field communications) chip to its iOS devices so they can be used to make contactless payments in any store that supports NFC

It’s a good start to automating payment, but only a start. There have long been ru­mours that Apple will add an NFC (near field communications) chip to its iOS devices so they can be used to make contactless payments in any store that supports NFC. Google’s Wallet Android app uses the NFC chips in some Android phones to make payments using a credit card whose details are stored in the app. Swipe the phone at a reader and the cost of your purchases is deducted from your credit card.

Using NFC for payment

You’ll have seen contactless terminals appearing in shops over the last few months; they work with contactless credit and debit cards too. And Barclays has recently launched the PayTag, an NFC sticker that can be at­tached to any mobile device, or indeed a half-brick, for convenience.

There are a number of problems with NFC, however. For one, there’s no global standard. Also, you still need to wave your thingy at the reader. That makes it only marginally more convenient than swiping a credit card. Mass adoption of NFC will require retailers and credit card companies to install newreaders in their stores and require consumers to use a modern mobile phone.

Does that mean contactless payments have no future? Not necessarily. Pablo Saez Gil, who works for industry analyst Research­Farm, believes that longer-distance payments could be the future. “We think that cloud- based payment solutions will produce the largest number of value benefits for retailers and consumers, cloud-basedpayments can gain mass adoption overnight, as cloud-based payment solutions will arrive in the form of mobile apps, be they digital wallets or mobile retailer apps,” he wrote in a blog post.

Saez Gil points to Apple’s adoption of Bluetooth 4 on all its iOS devices and Macs as evidence that it has given up on NFC and will instead use Bluetooth to enable contact­less payments. Using Bluetooth, according to Computerworld’s Mike Elgan, would have a couple of advantages over NFC. “Bluetooth can go into ultra-low-energy mode, passively aking connections and transferring the information necessary to conduct a financial transaction. And it can make those connec­tions at much greater distances than NFC can - up to 160 feet - eliminating the need for a customer to go to a checkout counter to use an NFC reader.”

The ability to make payments from a distance is key. You wouldn’t need to queue at a checkout, as you would with NFC, or to swipe your phone at a reader. For retailers and credit card companies, who are still toying with NFC, implementation would be easier: there would be no need for expensive NFC readers; all that was required would be a device that had Bluetooth 4 support.

Description: iWallet


The fact that the technology is available and less expensive than NFC doesn’t mean Apple has any plans to use it, of course. But a patent granted in March suggests it’s at least considering it. That patent, according to Pa­tently Apple, is for something called iWallet, which ‘reviews credit card transaction rules and shows us that the credit card companies will be sending statements directly to your iTunes account.’ According to the patent, users would be able to purchase items, set spending limits, store card details, and block specific retailers from within an app.

It may be that Apple plans to use iWallet for nothing more than transactions in its own retail stores. But that would seem a missed opportunity. Retailers, financial in­stitutions and technology companies have spent a decade or more trying to crack the problem of contactless payments. If Apple has the solution, making it widely available could be very profitable.

“The technology is available, andless expensive than NFC... which doesn’t mean Apple plans to use it.”

  •  Mind Control (Part 2) - Home entertainment & gaming
  •  Mind Control (Part 1) - What this technology can offer
  •  Making Music : Turning your iOS device into a dedicated player
  •  Windows Phone 7 : In the Cloud - Pushing Your Notification
  •  Windows Phone 7 : In the Cloud - Creating a Google API–Based Translator
  •  Is Small Beautiful, Or Is Bigger Better For Ios Devices?
  •  Filemaker Go 12 For Ipad
  •  Chrome FOR Android Beta Is Out
  •  Apple’s Sandboxing Security Issue
  •  XNA Game Studio 4.0 Programming : The Many Keys Of A Keyboard (part 2) - Moving Sprite Based on Keyboard Input, Onscreen Keyboard
  •  XNA Game Studio 4.0 Programming : The Many Keys Of A Keyboard (part 1) - Reading Keyboard State
  •  Personalize Your iPhone Case
  •  iOS 6's release
  •  Cheap smartphones at Computex 2012 : Acer CloudMobile S500, Gigabyte GSmart G1362, Malata Z500
  •  5 MP3 players in 2012
  •  Blackberry World 2012 (Part 3) - Mobile computing platform
  •  Blackberry World 2012 (Part 2) - BlackBerry 10, Apps and development
  •  Blackberry World 2012 (Part 1) - The keynote address
  •  World's Most Popular IM Client Just Got Hotter
  •  V For Venerable One
    Top 10
    What’s New In Speakers? – April 2013 (Part 3)
    What’s New In Speakers? – April 2013 (Part 2)
    What’s New In Speakers? – April 2013 (Part 1)
    Genius LuxePad 9100 Bluetooth Tablet Keyboard
    Philips Hue - Color Your World
    Supertooth HD Voice - Cup On And Start Talking
    Sathero SH200 - A Lightest Digital Satellite TV Signal Meter
    Ferguson Ariva 102 Mini - The Smallest HD Receiver
    Canon EOS M - Live Up To Its Pedigree?
    On The Origin Of PCs
    Most View
    Corsair AX 1200I - The First Digitally-Controlled PSU
    Tech Preview 2013 (Part 1) - Next-Gen Gpus
    Changes in Windows Vista Affecting SDI
    Algorithms for Compiler Design: REGULAR SETS AND REGULAR EXPRESSIONS
    Creating a Development Provisioning Profile on iPhone
    Plantronics BackBeat Go - Incredibly Small, Amazingly Light
    New Products For March 2013 (Part 1)
    Windows Vista : Customizing Windows PE Boot Images (part 3) - Working with OSCDImg, Working with vLite
    Parallel Programming : Task Relationships (part 1) - Continuation Tasks
    The 50 Best Headphones You Can Buy (Part 8)
    Unravelling the mobile security conundrum
    Not Bad For A Monkey (Part 3) : What's a Fusion Drive?
    Get Creative with Shadow Photography : 3 of the best ways to use shadows creatively
    Upgrading to Windows Server 2003 : Switching Forest and Domain Functional Levels
    Using Non-Windows Systems to Access Exchange Server 2010 : Mac Mail, iCal, and Address Book
    Fujifilm X-S1(Part 3) - ISO and White Balance performance
    .NET security : Isolated Storage Explained
    Windows Vista : Performing Local PC Administration (part 1) - Working with workstation administration tools
    Online Radio Tuner
    Sony Xperia Z Review (Part 4)