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New iPhones arrive and Apple embraces NFC payments

12 September 2014 - 10:11 by Mike Price

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This week not one but two new iPhone models were unleashed on an eager global audience, with Apple finally bowing to pressure to embrace bigger screens.

But the 4.7 inch iPhone 6 and the 5.5 inch iPhone 6 Plus are also noteworthy for being the first Apple handsets to incorporate NFC chips. And this could have major implications for consumers who want to carry out safe shopping online or even visit high street outlets.

The contactless payment capabilities of NFC could help Apple to channel more cash through its systems, with chief exec, Tim Cook, pointing out during the launch that in the US alone more than 4 billion dollars in payments are made via credit and debit cards each and every year.

Buyers of the new iPhones will need to add their payment card details to their account, at which point the Apple Pay service will then be able to use these to make purchases while on the move or while using safe shopping online. This puts Apple in direct competition with big players, like the eBay-owned PayPal.

Apple has apparently been working on the integration of NFC and the creation of its own payment system for the past half-decade, which is perhaps why it has taken so long to appear on the iPhone, even if it has been a feature of rival devices for some time.

Of course, the recent scandal over the leaking of private celebrity photographs might make it harder for Apple to convince people that their payment data will be safe. But in spite of this, it seems likely that Apple will have a good stab at securing a slice of this emerging market, since none of its competitors has really made NFC a vital mainstream method of payment.