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10th anniversary of retail could see Apple adopt NFC payments - rumor

With Apple said to be planning secret meetings and changes in its stores this coming weekend, a new rumor claims that the company could adopt near-field communication wireless transaction capabilities in its retail outlets.

Citing multiple anonymous sources, Boy Genius Report said on Tuesday that Apple could introduce NFC payments at its stores in the coming days. Such a change would align with the tenth anniversary of Apple's retail stores, with the company allegedly planning something to commemorate the event.

If Apple does adopt NFC payments in its stores, it would also be a major blow to a rumor that surfaced on Monday that Apple would not include an RFID near-field communications chip for e-wallet transactions in its anticipated fifth-generation iPhone. There have been multiple signs over the years that Apple is interested in an e-wallet system, including patent filings, job listings, and a recent report from The New York Times.

Currently, none of Apple's products include NFC chips or the ability to support e-wallet wireless transactions. What, if any, devices would be compatible with Apple's rumored payment system at launch remains unknown.

Tuesday's report notes that Apple's point-of-sale iPod touch wireless payment terminals recently went offline for maintenance for an entire day. It also restated its scoop that Apple's retail stores received multiple overnight shipments, and that employees will be working this coming weekend to install new devices.

"Lastly, sources tell us that there have been new tables installed in stores that have different wiring compared to Apple's standard tables," the report said. "They also have cash wraps built in, but they aren't being used yet and employees have been instructed to wait for further information."

AppleInsider first reported in April that Apple had restricted employee time off between May 20 and 22, dates that are very close to the May 19 anniversary of the opening of the first two Apple stores in Virginia and California in 2001. It was said that store managers were "very excited" about the dates, but no details of what could take place were given.

Apple is rumored to have scheduled store meetings at a very early 7 a.m. start time on Sunday, with other mandatory meetings set to be held into the evening. It was also said earlier this week that retail employees have had to download gigabytes of password-protected data related to corporate training.

Although Boy Genius Report has a respectable track record with regard to Apple's partnerships with wireless carriers it has missed the mark on several other Apple predictions from its sources. In 2009, the site reported that Blu-ray support was coming to iTunes 9, while last year the site claimed that the launch of a cloud-based streaming service, along with wireless syncing of data, was "imminent" from Apple.