Apple invests in mobile commerce technology, i-Cash.
by The Daily Beast:
A chip that links an iPhone to your bank account could break mobile commerce wide open in the U.S. Dan Lyons on Apple’s possible next category-killer.
The technology, called near-field communication, involves a microchip that can send and receive data across very short distances, about four inches. Instead of swiping a credit card, you hold your phone near a reader and let the data zip between the two devices.
Richard Doherty, research director at Envisioneering Group, a research firm in Seaford, New York, said he believes Apple intends to put NFC chips into the next versions of the iPhone and iPad as the first step toward a business that Doherty calls “i-cash.” This could transform the market for mobile commerce, not to mention the company itself: “It’s the bank of Apple.”
Right now, when you use iTunes, Apple bills your credit-card company—and pays onerous processing fees. But with this new system, iTunes could draw money directly from your bank account. Apple would be issuing the equivalent of credit cards in the form of smartphones and other devices and operating its own payment-processing system, something akin to PayPal.
Of course, like the chips, PayPal isn’t a new concept. But Apple’s genius has always involved taking existing ideas and bringing them together in ways that are easy to understand and use. The iPod wasn’t the first MP3 player. Nor were the iPhone and iPad the first in their categories. The real reason for the success of these devices—the true unsung hero at Apple—is the iTunes software and iTunes Store. Because Apple provided them, it wasn’t just selling hardware. It was selling a holistic experience, one whose pieces all worked together seamlessly
This might be the game-changer that gets me to convert to the iPhone.
Steve Jobs is gonna have a lovely anouncement for stockholders when he returns to work.