Apple Inc. is planning to introduce services that would let customers use their iPhone and iPad computer to make purchases.
According to sources, 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. Both products are likely to be introduced this year.
Sources revealed that 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. That could make it an alternative to programs offered by such companies as Visa Inc., MasterCard Inc. and EBay Inc.’s PayPal. It would make a lot of sense for Apple to include NFC functionality in its products.
The main goal for Apple would be to get a piece of the $6.2 trillion Americans spend each year on goods and services. Today, the company pays credit-card processing fees on every purchase from iTunes. By encouraging consumers to use cheaper methods — such as tapping their bank accounts directly, which is how many purchases are made via PayPal — Apple could cut its own costs and those of retailers selling Apple products.