I came across a good article at Macworld UK today regarding whether or not NFC will be present in the next iPhone. I mostly agree with what Jonny Evans is saying, however he argues that in order to be successful there must be a critical mass of NFC reading devices in the marketplace such that NFC would be useful but concludes: “…That’s still nowhere near enough to confidently launch and promise an NFC-based payment system for the consumer market.”
All Apple needs to do is partner with the biggest player in the market based on NFC readers around the world. I’m not Visa or MasterCard so I can’t be sure who has more readers out there but I’m sure it’s either or both of them that would fit the bill. Transit systems at the moment are fragmented around the world and whilst they may be using NFC technology they’re not using a common transaction method and would likely require their own custom application on the device to make it work. This isn’t such a big deal but it’s another link in the chain that Apple will surely wish to avoid - at least initially.
I think that Apple will enter the market partnered with one or two key players, offer options with iTunes payment integration and gradually chip away at transit companies and other NFC users. It seems to be the way they do business. I think it’s very likely it will be in a future iPhone. I have no special knowledge or information that it will or won’t be the next model but I won’t be surprised to see it announced later this year.