I’ve really been pondering the past few weeks’ events; Apple Pay was announced and launched and the new iPads were shown to the world. The payments lover in me had finally made my first Apple Pay transaction, and I was impressed and excited. However, that alone just got me thinking more, and then it hit me. What if the new iPads also had NFC chips. What would that mean for merchants and payment acceptance, and what would it mean for EMV compliance.
Initial reports indicated there was no NFC chip included. Then, I saw the guts of the new iPads, and BEHOLD, there was an NFC chip hiding inside. Whoa! So, Apple did include it after all and is waiting for the right time to enable it.
Then, just as I thought I had figured it all out, people started saying there was no antenna! After many conversations with technology and payments experts to see if I could glean any answers, I found myself at the end of today with nothing that explains why the NFC chip was included without an antenna. I hear the point that the secure element is important for “remote” Apple Pay security, and I buy that, but if they spent the money to include the chip, why not an antenna too? (Author’s note: the so-called “antenna” used for NFC is actually an induction coil, but so many people call it an antenna, we will continue to use that mildly flawed term)
We all know that the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus have an NFC antenna, and Apple said it was innovative and built into the top part of the phone, but no one out there seems to be able to find it. All they can verify is that the booster was included for small devices that don’t have enough antenna real estate.
What a NFC Chip with an Antenna Would Mean
If the chip was included in the new iPads to work as a NFC reader, it would mean HUGE things for merchant payment acceptance, and when and if that all happens, as you can imagine, some very powerful things are possible.
In one year, the deadline for Chip and PIN acceptance will be here, so when there are readers on every iOS device, you don’t need an EMV plug-in or to upgrade your POS system, you meet EMV requirements with contactless acceptance. With the deadline also comes pressure on issuers to issue Chip and PIN cards, but in my opinion, financial institutions will miss an opportunity not to also include contactless in the new cards.
Now these are the facts I have, and I’m not ever 100 percent sure they are the facts. So if anyone out there has other ideas or knowledge that explains this, please, reach out and help me figure it out.