Apple 2.0

Covering the business that Steve Jobs built

The iPhone as VISA card

January 25, 2011: 7:08 AM ET

Not content to take your money, now Apple reportedly wants to be your money

Photos: Apple Inc., RFIDJournal.com

The Apple (AAPL) buzz Tuesday morning was all about a Bloomberg report -- based apparently on a single source -- that the company is following Google's (GOOG) lead and building NFC (near-field communication) technology into its next-generation iPhones and iPads.

"Apple plans to take NFC Mainstream," begins MG Siegler's headine in TechCrunch. "Perhaps The Greatest Trick They've Ever Pulled?"

If Apple can successfully tie NFC technology -- which lets you exchange money and data wirelessly from up to 4 inches away -- to the 160 million iTunes accounts the company has on file, it could be huge, Siegler argues. By revising iTunes to allow accounts to be credited or dinged directly, Apple could avoid all those credit card fees and maybe get its hands on a slice of the $6.2 trillion Americans spend each year on goods and services.

"It could change everything," Siegler writes. "It could transform Apple from the biggest technology company in the world, to the biggest company in the world, period. By far."

We're not entirely convinced.

We've been carrying a NFC-chip-equipped VISA card in our wallet for years. We tried to use it a few times to buy stuff at a discount pharmacy in New York City. One time it worked. The other times the check-out clerk rolled her eyes and asked me to just swipe the damn card.

Click here for a list of the 14 handsets already equipped with NFC technology and the 33 countries currently conducting NFC trials.

See also:

[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]

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About This Author
Philip Elmer-Dewitt
Philip Elmer-DeWitt
Editor, Apple 2.0, Fortune

Philip Elmer-DeWitt has been following Apple since 1982, first for Time Magazine, and now on the Web for Fortune.com.

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