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ipad 2When Apple Inc. officially launched its Apple Pay mobile-payments service on Monday, all eyes were on the new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, the smart phones that carry the near-field communication (NFC) technology that makes Apple Pay work in stores. But now it turns out Apple has also embedded an NFC chip in its new iPad Air 2, the updated tablet it introduced earlier this week.

“As tablets go out with NFC chips, you’re putting out an acceptance device. There’s nothing that has to happen but a software update,” says Todd Ablowitz, president of Double Diamond Payments Research, Centennial, Colo.

To the extent the new tablets are ready for contactless EMV cards, they will also be enabled to accept NFC-based mobile wallets ranging from Apple Pay to Google Wallet to Softcard. But many experts expect Apple Pay to be the dominant wallet. Even before its launch, it had already enlisted enough cards to account for more than 80% of U.S. credit card dollar volume.

Rick Oglesby, a senior analyst at Double Diamond, figures Apple may have left the NFC capability inactive for now because of a plan it’s following that may be even broader than the EMV rollout. “Apple has its own internal agenda as to how NFC should develop,” he says. “They’re staging things, and have a reason for staging them in that way.”

Digital Transactions, October 24, 2014