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Near-field communication (NFC) has wound up in a lot of Android devices over the last few years, enabling retail shoppers to pay with a tap. With each passing year, Apple has been rumored to finally adopt such technology, so it should come as little surprise to see it surface again in 2014.
Global investment newswire BrightWire is reporting that Apple is "likely" to incorporate NFC payment technology into the next generation iPhone, presumably the rumored iPhone 6 which is widely expected to arrive later this year.
According to "a source close to the matter," Apple has already inked a deal with China UnionPay for a "mobile payment service" that will take advantage of the feature, which typically involves a small secure element attached to the internal hardware.
In the UnionPay scenario, customers would be able to download their bank card to Passbook and make mobile payments at more than three million "QuickPass" point-of-sale terminals across mainland China. Apple has reportedly invited other major Chinese banks to also participate.
NFC has been widely rumored for the last several iPhone models, but each year seems to come and go without Apple actually adopting the technology. Accessory makers like Incipio have tried to get around the problem by introducing bulky NFC-equipped cases in tandem with carrier-backed services such as Isis Wallet, to mixed results.
Earlier this year, a patent which covers near-field communication was discovered at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, reigniting rumors that 2014 could finally be the year Apple goes NFC.
Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter