According to TechCrunch, Apple’s work with Near Field Communications (NFC) may bear fruit sooner than expected. Apple hired an expert in the field, and hold multiple patents for the technology, and Steve Cheney believes that they are currently in the process of testing a NFC enabled phone:
But I’ve learned of an even more revealing sign that Apple will integrate the technology—sources tell me that Apple has built NFC-enabled iPhone prototypes using hardware from NXP Semiconductor, and is testing mobile payments today (NXP is the market leader in NFC and just hired Goldman Sachs to run its IPO).
The existence of prototypes would almost surely suggest that Apple will include NFC in iPhone 5, or whatever Apple decides to call its next iPhone.
This technology will doubtless manifest in iPhone based payment systems, which would then require the rolling out of some sort of dongle or hardware at local stores. It’ll be interesting to see how they approach that.