Analyst: NFC Coming to iPhone 6 for iWallet

Apple's next generation iPhone will include a digital wallet feature called iWallet, and it'll use NFC (near field communication) to wirelessly complete transactions. That's what Sterne Agee analyst Vijay Rakesh thinks, and he's basing that on recent Apple patent filings.

Stern Agee thinks the iPhone 6 will include an NFC-based digital walletStern Agee thinks the iPhone 6 will include an NFC-based digital wallet

In a note to investors, Mr. Rakesh said,

We believe Apple just filed a patent showing its iWallet system using NFC, and a secure element... While there has been optimism that the iPhone6 could have NFC, this is another filing that shows a handset with NFC with a key secure element and the Apple iWallet payment system.

Rumors saying NFC is coming to the next iPhone have been circulating for some time and so far haven't panned out. Apple has consistently stayed away from the technology, and despite the ongoing belief from analysts that next time it's really going to happen, every iPhone model so far has been NFC-free.

The idea that the iPhone6 will include NFC is even harder to swallow considering the investment Apple has made in its iBeacon technology. iBeacon uses low energy Bluetooth to link to smartphones, and coupled with Passbook and TouchID could serve as a digital wallet without the limitations that come with incompatible NFC systems.

Regardless of the technology Apple uses, the pieces are all falling in place for a digital wallet system on the iPhone, and that could be a feature in iOS 8, which is expected to ship this fall.