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Apple seeks partners to enable NFC-based transit payments & building access for iPhone 6 & Watch

Though the near-field communications chip in the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus is currently exclusively for Apple Pay, the wireless functionality may be expanded to new uses such as replacing a public transit card or a secure building access keycard.



Apple is said to have spoken with NFC technology providers HID Global and Cubic about potential future plans, according to The Information. In one example, an iPhone 6 could replace the "Clipper" card used for California's Bay Are Transit System, which relies on the same NFC-based technology used by Apple Pay.

"Apple could easily allow for Clipper cards to be uploaded into the phone, with key information stored in the phone's "secure element," along with bank cards used through Apple Pay, and let people tap their phones at the BART turnstiles to transmit the information to the card reader using the iPhone's NFC chip," reporter Amir Efrati wrote.

Currently, developers are not allowed to tap into the NFC chip found in the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Its functions remain exclusively tied to Apple Pay, which launched with the release of iOS 8.1 last week.

Apple hasn't indicated any plans to open up NFC access in the future, and Monday's report suggested Apple may selectively partner in offering NFC support. But Apple initially restricted Touch ID support until the launch of iOS 8, which now allows developers to offer fingerprint-based access to their applications.

And while NFC is currently exclusive to the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, it will also be built into the upcoming Apple Watch, set to launch in early 2015. The Apple Watch offers compatibility with older iPhone models, including the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5, which will give those devices access to Apple Pay despite the fact that they do not feature NFC chips.