Could this be the Year that Apple Introduces the iWallet?
Apple has been working on a true iPhone based credit/debit card system for years that most call the iWallet. Apple has an extensive series of patent pending technologies and methods supporting such a product. The question isn't if Apple will debut a financial instrument called the iWallet but rather when. Today a new a report out of Canada confirms that the powerhouse group of TELUS, Bell and Rogers under their joint venture of Ensign is set to bring the electronic wallet to Canada big time later this year. Savvy iPhone users in Canada that are up for renewal this year won't want to miss out on such an important smartphone feature – which begs the question, is this the year that Apple introduces their long awaited iWallet application?
According to a new report at Mobilesyrup, Toronto-based SecureKey raked in a $30 million investment last year from Rogers, TELUS, Visa and others to expand their authentication software technology to make online and mobile payments more secure.
Today, SecureKey announced a new distribution agreement with EnStream to bring their tech to mobile phones in Canada. SecureKey and EnStream will work together to bring secure NFC-based contactless payment options to Canadians.
Almis Ledas, COO of EnStream, stated "SecureKey is the first credential issuer to announce that it will make use of our ability to deploy secure credentials on SIM-based secure elements for mobile carriers in Canada."
At the moment, Apple doesn't think that it's "clear that NFC is the solution to any current problem." Yet Canada's EnStream and the Isis group in the US backed by AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile USA and Verizon are solidly behind NFC. No alternative technology is publically being supported at the moment.
Merchants aren't going to want to place two machines in their establishments to support a proprietary Apple-centric wireless technology, no matter how popular the iPhone is.
Apple introduced their new lightning port with the iPhone 5 in Q4 that went against the micro USB trend implemented by their competitors. That didn't really matter much in the big picture, but NFC may.
Yet at the end of the day, Ensign and Isis fully understand that the iPhone is still too important to dismiss being that it was the number one smartphone in the world last quarter, the most important quarter of the year. Although it doesn't make the headlines in any way today, it's very likely that Apple is working with both these groups in North America along with equivalent carrier-blocks in Europe and Asia to make this happen.
Whether Apple implements a new wireless technology designed with security in mind or adds another technology like TransferJet, I believe these carrier groups will work to accommodate Apple. The global electronic Wallet revolution could sputter without Apple's involvement, due in part to Apple having the savviest user base on the planet. And in the big picture, Apple wouldn't and couldn't buck the NFC trend if the carriers weren't already secretly supporting their alternative solution. Apple may be conceded but they're not stupid. They're not going to allow Samsung to steal the limelight on one of the most important applications to ever grace a smartphone based on bucking the NFC trend blindly. No, that's just not going to happen.
While it's one thing for Apple to have missed out on the 5" display trend in smartphones in 2012, it's another if they're late to the iWallet revolution. I don't tend to believe that Apple will miss out on this important revolution and are simply keeping their project details as secret as humanly possible until later this year.
While it's starting to look as if this is going to be the year that the electronic wallet finally emerges, the real question is, is it the year for Apple's iWallet?