Home / Credit News / No NFC means no mobile wallets for iPhone 5

Apple fans who were hoping that the next iteration of the computer giant's popular smartphone would come with the technology necessary to complete mobile wallet transactions will likely be waiting another year.

The iPhone 5 was officially unveiled on September 12, but despite many experts' predictions that the handset would come equipped with near-field communications technology, this was not the case, according to a report from CNET. While Apple announced many improvements for the iPhone 5 over its older 4S counterpart - including a larger screen, the ability to connect to faster networks, improved cameras, and a slimmer body - the ability to make mobile wallet purchases was not among them.

In the past, experts have noted that there are a number of reasons Apple might not be willing to participate, and perhaps the largest is that the company has relatively little history of getting involved in a type of technology that does not have a strong foothold in the marketplace yet. Currently, relatively few merchants actually have the devices necessary to complete an NFC transaction and Apple is characteristically reticent to try to drive the market in that direction.

"[T]erminals at the point of sale must also be equipped to read the information from the NFC chips installed in devices," CNET's Maggie Reardon said. "The second big problem is that there are still business issues centering around who controls the customer via the NFC technology that's embedded in the device."

To that end, though, Apple may be making headway, an Adweek report said. Its new Passbook app, which will be available to all iPhone users on the iOS6 mobile operating system later this month, could finally bring mobile coupon issuing and use to the fore. Apple currently has more than 435 million iTunes users, nearly all of whom have provided email contact and payment information, and that could create a massive customer base for retailers that choose to participate in the program.

In theory, businesses will be able to access more data on customers, such as what they buy and where, and tailor discounts and coupons to their specific habits. The users, in turn, will be able to receive better deals for products they already like.

On the other hand, iPhone users who were hoping the new handset would allow them to make mobile wallet purchases will have to wait for at least one more iteration of the popular device. However, there is also a small but growing number of non-iPhone mobile devices on the Android operating system that come with NFC technology.

Mobile wallet transactions are said to be far more secure than traditional credit cards, which may be enticing to some borrowers. However, experts have routinely noted that the largest wave of broad adoption will likely come when consumers are given some sort of incentive to participate.