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Apple plans mobile payment system

Apple is working on launching a mobile payment system for that would be used with the iPad and iPhone. Apple is working on launching a mobile payment system for that would be used with the iPad and iPhone. (George Frey/Bloomberg News)
Bloomberg News / January 26, 2011

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PORTLAND, Ore. — Apple Inc. plans to introduce services that would let customers use its iPhone and iPad computer to make purchases, said Richard Doherty, director of consulting firm Envisioneering Group.

The services are based on “Near-Field Communication,’’ a technology that can beam and receive information at a distance of up to 4 inches, due to be embedded in the next iteration of the iPhone for AT&T Inc. and the iPad 2, Doherty said. Both products are likely to be introduced this year, he said, citing engineers who are working on hardware for the Apple project.

Apple’s service may be able to tap into user information already on file, including credit card numbers, iTunes gift card balance, and bank data, said Richard Crone, who leads financial industry adviser Crone Consulting LLC. That could make it an alternative to programs offered by such companies as Visa Inc., MasterCard Inc., and eBay Inc.’s PayPal, said Taylor Hamilton, an analyst at consultant IBISWorld Inc.

Today, the company pays credit card processing fees on every purchase from iTunes. By encouraging consumers to use cheaper methods Apple could cut its own costs and those of retailers selling Apple products.

A spokeswoman for Apple declined to comment.

“NFC is definitely one of the technologies that’s getting a lot of attention, but ultimately the consumer is going to choose,’’ said a spokeswoman for PayPal.