According to a new ABI Research Report out of London today, the number of NFC-enabled devices in use will exceed 500 million in 2014. The current advantage goes to Android devices who form the largest base that could take advantage of micro payment services due to arrive later this fall supported by AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon in the US via their joint venture called Isis. In Canada the major carriers will be supporting similar services via SecureKey and EnStream. According to the ABI report, "NFC has reached the point of no return."
The report went on to state that "it all hinged on handsets; and next year we will see half-a-billion devices in the hands of consumers as it becomes more widely integrated. Up until this point banks and other service partners were holding back" from committing to digital wallet services.
At the moment it's a bit of a mystery as to why the electronic iWallet hasn't surfaced in a meaningful way as of yet and to complicate matters, Apple has made it clear that they're not a proponent of NFC.
Will Apple's Future iWallet use NFC, a Proprietary RFID Alternative or a Hybrid Solution?
On the flipside of the equation, Apple has zero NFC ready iPhones and so they'll be starting from scratch if they decide to choose a proprietary technology for their iWallet app. The math would indicate that it would take years to amass half a billion iPhone users with a new proprietary iWallet technology built in. That would appear to be too large a negative for Apple to overcome. That could theoretically translate into Apple supporting some form of hybrid solution so that future iPhone users won't be left out of this coming e-commerce revolution. But let's be honest here, it's still a big mystery as to how any of this will play out over the next 18 months.
The good news is that Apple may have provided us with a tiny clue about their future iWallet via the consistent rumor that one of their 2013 iPhone's could very well introduce fingerprint scanning. Apple's patent on this specific form of Biometrics has been directly linked to e-commerce as the hyperlink we've provided you with above will confirm.
At the end of the day, the NFC drum is now beating loudly and ABI's latest stats make it clear that the time for the e-commerce revolution draws nigh. And while all of the e-wallet news has been centered around Android devices of late, in the end, Apple's iWallet is Inevitable, NFC or Not
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