Apple's latest iWallet patent suggests NFC is coming to an iPhone near you soon

Latest patent describes how Apple might manage your transactions

The US Patent & Trademark Office has published a new Apple patent application that details a new iWallet transaction patent.

The new patent describes a method for conducting a transaction, and Patently Apple suggests it means we may be a step closer to Apple debuting NFC technology on its iOS devices.

With an iWallet feature on the iPhone, Apple would join the NFC party. NFC stands for near-field communications, and is a set of short-range wireless standards that let mobile phones communicate with each other - or with other electronic devices. A number of NFC-equipped Android phones can act as an e-wallet, paying for goods with a swipe of your handset.

Passbook - which offers a partial e-wallet experience already, providing quick access to tickets, boarding passes and loyalty cards - is Apple's closest approximation of the idea currently, and could also be expanded to include NFC and mobile payments. (Chances are your bank card offers this feature).

Patently Apple outlines that Apple's newly patented 'method for conducting a financial transaction'. It includes:

- Taking a picture of a first code displayed on a transaction terminal using a camera of a portable electronic device;

- Sending data from the portable electronic device to the transaction terminal to conduct the financial transaction with the transaction terminal using a near field communication channel or another wireless communication channel;

Patently Apple also rounds up a number of iWallet related patents, including some from 2010 that look at: acquiring payment information on a handheld device; a method for conducting a group transaction having a plurality of group transaction members on a handheld electronic device; a method for authorizing a payment in a peer-to-peer transaction; and a method of conducting a wireless transaction.

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Karen Haslam

Macworld U.K.
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