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Monday, March 21, 2011, 12:20 pm PT (03:20 pm ET)

Apple planning NFC e-wallet functionality for a 'coming' iPhone, NYT says

Apple reportedly plans to add a near-field communications chip to a future iPhone for wireless e-wallet transactions, though the feature will not necessarily appear in this year's anticipated iPhone 5.

Citing two anonymous sources with details on a coming iPhone, The New York Times reported on Monday that a future handset from Apple will include a NFC chip from Qualcomm. That wireless chip could allow a next-generation iPhone to be used to make mobile payments.

Author Nick Bilton said though Apple apparently plans to add the feature to a future iPhone, "it is unclear" which handset it will appear in. Apple typically releases its annual iPhone upgrade in June.

"one person familiar with the new Apple feature said the phone's credit card information would be tied to information currently used on iTunes, which would make it simple for customers to set up the new mobile payment method on the iPhone," the report said.

The report comes soon after a separate story from Forbes, which claimed that Apple plans to bring NFC functionality to the anticipated iPhone 5 this summer. But a separate report last week also claimed that Apple had abandoned its plans to include an NFC chip in the iPhone 5, citing "the lack of a clear standard."

Google's flagship, custom-built Android phone, the Nexus S, was released late last year with an NFC chip for short-range wireless data transmission. However, the feature has failed to attract any major applications thus far.

This January, AppleInsider exclusively reported that Apple was looking to hire a hardware engineer familiar with radio-frequency identification, or RFID, a type of NFC. The company also sought a number of payment platform experts for products in retail stores, inviting applications to be a part of "something big."

Rumors of an NFC-capable iPhone have repeatedly surfaced, fueled in part by last year's hiring of Benjamin Vigier, an expert on NFC technology. Previously, Vigier was the project manager for mobile wallet, payment and NFC at mFoundry, a company that specializes in mobile payments.