Apple has a handful of patents in the area of NFC, will iPhone 6 with NFC impact payments with it?

We have seen this movie before. KGI Securities analyst Ming Chi-Kuo has made predictions in the past and many of them have gone right. He has a good reputation given so many others go wrong. But he may or may not be right all the time. This time he says iWatch and iPhone 6 will have NFC. We always like to do some facts finding before doing any kind of crystal ball gazing. So here we are with our research on patents that Apple has got in the recent past.

  • April 2010: Patent citing iTravel app. The iTravel app would handle a broad array of functions to assist with travel logistics. This would help in cases like collecting ticket information or doing easy airport check-ins. The app can leverage NFC at check-in & other travel booths hosting NFC scanners.
  • October 16, 2010: Patent citing use of the magnetometer or the compass capabilities of device for pairing. This, in practicality, shall enable two devices in close proximity to identify each other using the magnetic signature and pair-up. This shall be a prominent add-on as NFC gets freed up for access in other apps for simultaneous use.
  • August 28, 2012: Patent related to Apple’s future iWallet. This revealed Apple’s virtual equivalent of a credit card. The app would feature a GUI representing the swipe nature of a credit card. The card information would be digitally represented through an embedded electronic wallet. iWallet can use the NFC hardware for quick access at POS for finalizing payments after transferring card data.
  • May 2, 2013: Patent citing establishing an NFC session. This revealed Apple’s aim to advance its NFC project which began in 2008. This shows the possibility of adding NFC features to the future apps like iWallet, iTravel, Shopping etc.
  • May 2, 2013: Patent citing Apple’s future e-commerce app dubbed as Shopping. The patent cites prospect of adding NFC to Shopping app for extensive use in retail space. The POS at retail outlets can swiftly process customer orders using the device's NFC.
  • January 16, 2014: Patent revealing a secure iWallet system to include new Air Interfaces including iBeacon. Along with NFC, iBeacon becomes effective add-on for syncing with differently configured POS(s). For instance, if the POS is not NFC compatible then iBeacon can come into picture for Bluetooth sync.
  • May 16, 2013: Extensive patent related to Shopping app citing claims for the features – turn-by-turn directions, a user rating system, NFC compatibility, online purchasing & list of retailer icons.

The news that sent Techpress crazy in the last 3 days - According to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple is planning to debut two new iPhone models with two distinct screen sizes in 2014, an unprecedented move for the company that traditionally shies away from screen size wars. A near-field communications chip (NFC) and metal casing are also part of the build.

NFC phone shipment forecast: NFC enabled phone shipments are expected to grow at 37% CAGR from 256 million sets in 2013 to 1,235 million sets in 2018.This is driven by strong growth in smart phone sales in APAC. APAC is expected to remain the largest market with more than 50% of NFC enabled shipments in 2018. For APAC, penetration of NFC enabled phone in overall smart phone market is expected to increase from 20% in 2013 to 56% in 2018. EMEA is expected to remain the second largest market with 26% shipment share in 2018, followed by Americas with 22% share.

​Impact if Apple includes NFC in iPhone 6 ​- Overall growth in NFC shipments will top 42%+ CAGR and in terms of sheer numbers could cross even 1400 million sets in 2015. Americas will have an even bigger shipment share than 22% (current) driven by the USA.

NFC POS installed base forecast (Prior to BLE impact): NFC POS installed base is expected to grow from 6.6 million in 2013 to 44 million by 2018, growing at CAGR of 48%. Growth is expected to be driven by increased adoption in EMEA with, share of NFC enabled POS installed base as a % of total POS installed base, is expected to grow from 11% in 2013 to ~80% in 2018. APAC already has significant NFC POS installed base in China and Japan. Japan has largest number of NFC enabled POS (>1 Million) in the world. As a result, growth is expected to be marginally lower than EMEA. NFC enabled POS installed base is expected to grow at 47% in Americas and is expected to be close to 10 million units in 2018. ​Impact if Apple includes NFC in iPhone 6 ​and iWatch - NFC enabled POS would grow at more than 60% CAGR at least in the Americas. US alone would drive global growth upwards of 44 million NFC enabled POS by 2018 worldwide. Much higher than the current estimates.