Apple's hiring of NFC expert sparks digital wallet rumors

Benjamin Vigier is a bit of a near field communication (NFC) pioneer. Since 2004, he has worked with the likes of Bouygues Telecom, Sandisk, and mFoundry. He is also responsible for, “the development of mobile wallet applications for two top US mobile network operators and an NFC wallet application for a top three US bank.” So when U.S. electronics company Apple, Inc. decided to hire him as their “commerce product manager,” the rumors began a flyin’. Unsurprisingly, Vigier and Apple both declined to comment on the hiring, but a look at some of the recent NFC related patent filings by Apple have given the rumors legs. NFC World reports the following NFC related patent filings for Apple int he last few months:

  • An NFC-based mobile payments service that lets consumers make payments to merchants and other consumers via a credit or debit card, directly from their bank account or using credit stored in their iTunes account.
  • The ‘iPay, iBuy and iCoupons’ patents, describing a comprehensive mobile payments, mobile commerce and mobile marketing business based around an NFC-enabled iPhone.
  • Products+, an NFC-based product marketing and promotions application.
  • An airline ticketing and boarding pass application that describes an unmanned, automated airport ticketing and baggage counter kiosk and introduces the concept of an automated security checking process where users of the iTravel app could process themselves through the security clearance system and check themselves in at the boarding gate.
  • The Grab & Go patent, designed to make it easy for customers to transfer files between devices such as the Mac, iPhone and Apple TV.
  • An NFC-enabled iPod, games controller, TV and iPhone.
  • An NFC-based concert, entertainment and sports venue ticketing application that includes exclusive bonus features for users of Apple’s service.

Maybe someone will leave an NFC enabled iPhone in a bar? Until then… let the rumors continue.

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