According to a number of sources, Apple has recently patented a NFC-based payment system for use with iOS, which is fueling speculation that Apple may be ready to deploy a iWallet on its next iPhone release.
The California-based manufacturer's new patent covers a variety of features, such as allowing parents to automatically set spending protocols and allowing credit card companies to directly send statements to iTunes.
Regardless of the patent being filed, it does not necessarily mean that Apple will deploy the technology and there have been many examples where Apple has patented its technology and sat on it, or in some cases, have turned around and leased its use out to other companies after some time has passed. Apple is well-known for its love of patenting any new developed technologies and this may simply be Apple adding another patent to its growing collection.
It seems more likely, however, that Apple will want to take advantage of this technology as the booming NFC market is expected to take off in 2012 and be a dominant force in cell phones by 2015. Currently, there is still much competition against NFC PayPal and Square are two of the biggest and it may be some time before NFC will be rolled out universally as a payment solution.
Google has just recently released its Google Wallet platform, only to have many difficulties and security flaws, leading many to doubt the ability for cell phone companies and manufacturers to properly harness the technology.
It would seem to any sensible person that Apple is carefully, diligently working behind the scenes to unveil its NFC technology at a later date, hopefully when it is more refined and stable than some of its predecessors have been that have shown up in recent months. Apple isn't always the first to release any given form of update or technology for a phone, but when they do release it, it typically works very well. Apple fans will just have to wait and see.