Passbook. (Photo : Apple)
All signs point to Apple integrating a near field communications (NFC) chip into the next iPhone.
This would allow for the iPhone 5, which according to some rumors could be released this fall, to interact with other NFC-enabled devices to do things such as download movie times from an NFC "smart" movie poster or purchase items simply by waving the phone over a payment device. A new feature in the Apple iOS 6 called Passbook is more indication that Apple is opening up the possibility of using the next iPhone as a wallet.
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Apple describes Passbook like this on their website:
"Your boarding passes, movie tickets, retail coupons, loyalty cards, and more are now all in one place. With Passbook, you can scan your iPhone or iPod touch to check in for a flight, get into a movie, and redeem a coupon. You can also see when your coupons expire, where your concert seats are, and the balance left on that all-important coffee bar card. Wake your iPhone or iPod touch, and passes appear on your Lock screen at the appropriate time and place - like when you reach the airport or walk into the store to redeem your gift card or coupon. And if your gate changes after you've checked in for your flight, Passbook will even alert you to make sure you're not relaxing in the wrong terminal."
Essentially, Passbook, in its current stage, can replace almost everything in your wallet except for identification and major credit cards. However, Apple can easily partner up with a major credit card company like Visa or Master Card to offer a payment system through Passbook.
Master Card recently approved 17 smartphones to use PayPass and it's not a stretch to think that Apple's lucrative iPhone consumer base will receive the same service. Apple already has over 400 million credit cards on file thanks to purchases made by their iPhone customers. Utilizing this information in order to cut out the transaction fees it currently faces is something the company is probably thinking about.