back to article iPhone 5 rumoured to be packed with pay-by-bonk tech

Rumours - fuelled by comments from a MasterCard chief and an iOS developer - suggest that this year's next-gen iPhone could be packing a wireless pay-by-wave chip. The built-in near-field communication (NFC) gizmo would allow the iPhone 5 to make contact-less payments at the tills - a system that has been around on Android …


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  1. lotus49
    Thumb Down

    Pay by bonk?

    This article turned out to be a lot less interesting than it first looked.

    Was it written by an American because bonk appears to mean something very different (and altogether more interesting) to me?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Pay by bonk?

      One American definition of bonk apparently means to "hit the wall" - seen in a book about marathon running, as in "You run 20 miles and then you bonk" - a staggering achievement don't you think?

      1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

        If I could run 20 miles and still bonk I'd be proud.

        Next time though I'd insist that playing hard-to-get is not taken quite so literally, running around the bedroom a couple of times = good, running halfway across the city = bad.

      2. Jedit
        Paris Hilton

        "A staggering achievement"

        Stuff the 20 mile run - the bonk is enough to leave you staggering, if you do it right.

    2. Uncle Slacky Silver badge

      I think the American equivalent would be...

      ..."Boink" - which is of course an anagram of "iBonk"...

    3. Lamont Cranston

      If memory serves,

      a "bonk" is a large marble. What on earth were you thinking of? ;-)

  2. Nya


    Oh no, Apple wants to claim 30% off my Tesco bill now!

  3. Neil 44

    No doubt it'll be subtly different from the "standard" method of NFC payments and will only work with fruity terminals (that won't work with Droid phones, of course...)

    How much will iPounds cost (or is it Pounds of Apples?) - probably more than a pound (£1.30?)?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Will only work when buying lattes, won't work in Aldi or Lidl unless it suddenly become hip to use budget off brand supermarkets in which case it'll have worked there for years.

  4. Dazed and Confused Silver badge

    Apple won't approve of bonking

    No way, given their past stands.

    Pay by bonking has to be illegal in many jurisdictions, Apple's home one I think.

    Charging their customary 30% on pay by bonk would mean that they would be guilty of "living off immoral earnings"

    1. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart

      What do you mean...

      ...they _would_ be guilty of "living off immoral earnings"

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    At the forefront of innovation yet again - wonder if they have a patent on it yet?

    1. Giles Jones Gold badge

      You really don't know how Apple work do you? in many cases they go with the latest greatest tech, but if something isn't ready yet as it uses too much power, is too immature or not popular enough then they leave it out.

      In the case of NFC it's too early, it's too slow for useful things like Tube station payments and it's not in widespread use.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Well someone has to be first, retailers won't install NFC payment if there are no handsets/devices that support it.

        As for using too much power, I haven't seen that hold back any smartphone handset manufacturer. They all appear to be happy with the "might make 48 hours if you are lucky" model... On that front we've seriously gone backwards!

      2. Kristian Walsh Silver badge

        NFC is a superset of RFID...

        NFC is a compatible superset of the RFID technology behind the Oyster/Octopus/etc cards used on public transport, and with current receiver chips there is no technological barrier to using an NFC-equipped phone as on a public transport payment system. The slow response may be because of the stupid payment applications doing everything "in the cloud", not the NFC technology itself.

        NFC has other, non-payment uses, particularly when combined with Bluetooth - Nokia's Tap-to-Pair/Tap-to-Share and Google's "Beam" both use NFC to automate Bluetooth sharing and streaming . Of course, these are also not so useful if your phone can't do Bluetooth object exchange, but like NFC payments, that's not a technological problem either...

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Intertesting thought.

          If Apple were thinking about NFC, they might find a way to make it useful by tying it not just to payment systems but also to peer-to-peer communications. For example, content sharing between iPhones. Instead of using barcodes and cameras or bumping that relies on the cloud, why not just sit two phones side by side and send? The NFC chips, like the system above mentioned, could be used as a mutual authentication for a Bluetooth connection, which would in turn pass along the data with as little fuss as possible (as in no manual authentication necessary). That's an ease-of-use aspect of the kind Apple would be keen to use if they can work out any kinks.

          1. Craigness

            charles 9

            Are you suggesting they should invent Android Beam? Maybe they could patent it too.

          2. Kristian Walsh Silver badge

            @Charles 9

            If Apple are looking for some blue-sky wild futuristic concept ideas, I might direct their attention to these SHIPPING products:

            August 2011:

            Nokia (Symbian Belle):

            Nokia (Maemo6 Harmattan):

            October 2011:

            Google (Android ICS):

            ... so, really it's only a matter of time before Apple invent it for the first time. The only difference is that Apple's one will probably only work between iPhones. Still, who wants to share information with people who have different opinions to you, anyway.

    2. Albert Hall

      Patent on bonking?

      Fuck that notion.

  6. thesykes

    So, Apple add ApplePay or some such dumb named function, and then the fanboys claim Apple invented NFC?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Perhaps iOverPay?

  7. David Kelly 2

    Maybe I'll (finally) get an iPhone

    Guessing T-Mobile in the USA was waiting for the resolution to the AT&T fiasco before signing up for iPhone. The expected product announcements this spring will be just about the right timing for T-Mobile to announce, if they ever will. Perhaps pricing will be interesting enough for me to sell one share of AAPL and buy an iPhone to replace my dumb no-text phone.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I hope they do a better job at handset design and iOS than they have in the past. Tho I doubt it.

    Makes no difference, iPeople will buy any ole sh te.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So Apple is getting into credit card business. What do credit card companies make per transaction? Amazon has their Visa. What's to stop Apple from having their own MasterCard? I'll pass.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Not how NFC works

      The NFC doesn't function like a credit card. Apple doesn't issue a credit card to use with an NFC. Likely it'll either be passed to the carrier (and onto the consumer) or straight to the bank.

      And the amount the company makes per transaction depends upon the merchant. Some merchants charge a flat-fee on each transaction, some charge a percentage, etc. Google Checkout charges somewhere on the order of 3% I believe.

  10. Mike G

    Barristas Ho!

    This means a vicious circle where jesus phone toting barristas can spend more time tippy tapping and ignoring customers, yet can clap like a seal being fed fish everytime a fellow iSwipe hipster rings the till.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Forgive a silly question, but "why?"

    Why would I want to have my *phone* contain my credit cards. I carry this nifty invention called "a wallet" which contains them quite well.

    Seriously: what is the use case that putting the NFC in my phone, vs. my wallet, has an advantage? Is it so that when the Bad Guy swipes my phone, he can not only get all my personal information, but can go directly to sucking the money out of my accounts?

    My phone already has an unhealthy amount of information about me (I wonder what the Founding Fathers would have made of the implications of a smartphone - I dare say "secure in their persons and papers" might have seen a bit of a revision) - do I really want to tie it to my bank accounts that directly?

    1. Goat Jam

      Well, it is my understanding that it is more for the sort of low value transaction that you normally wouldn't bother pulling your card out for.

      Buying a paper, a bus ticket or a burger at McD's.

      That sort of thing.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        So, I pull something out and wave it

        So, I want to make a low value purchase, so I pull *something* out and wave it at the reader. Why should that something be my phone rather than my billfold?

        (unlike so many other people, I don't have my phone welded to my hand, so it's just as easy to get my wallet as my phone).

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: So, I pull something out and wave it → #

          My wallet resides in my right front pants pocket, and above it is stored my phone. It's a bit of a pain to get out, but I prefer it that was as I don't want to go around with my phone welded to my hand.

          So, if I buy a package of swiss rolls and a mountain dew, getting the wallet out is a major PITA - retrieve phone, hold phone with other hand, extract recalcitrant wallet which never wants to emerge due to its business-receipt engorged bulk, put phone back to free other hand, get out card, put card back, take out phone, jam in wallet, re-insert phone. All while some lumberjack behind me is starting to consider a new use for his ax.

          And I don't mean guitar.

          Therefore, an option to shrink that procedure to "retrieve phone; wave phone; replace phone" would be welcomed. Even better would be if I could just half-hop up onto the counter and writhe around, but that might be taken the wrong way.

          1. Mint Sauce

            Sounds like you need a Man Bag, my friend ;-)

        2. You Are Not Free

          What is NFC good for?

          I'll tell you what it's for and it's nothing to do with convenience i.e. "well it usually takes me 0.5 seconds more to get my wallet out rather than my phone so all this extra tech is a no-brainer really"

          That's sheep logic at work. All this tech isn't being developed and implemented at great cost just to make life 0.5 seconds more convenient for you.

          Oh no.

          When you use a credit or debit card, a percentage of the total amount goes to the card providers, known by everyone as credit card fees. Most retailers choose to absorb this cost with a mark-up on their prices rather than adding it separately to the total. This means that those customers who pay with cash do not benefit from a price with no credit card fees.

          Many small purchases (coffee, newspapers, drinks, food) are still made with cash, using cash keeps the credit card and payment providers out of the transaction, which in turn means they can't make money from you spending yours. NFC is here to change that, it's intended to replace cash with a system that allows credit card companies and payment providers to take a slice of every transaction, like a tax if you will, from the credit card companies.

          It will of course take off like a house on fire, because the credit card companies and payment providers own all the large corporations that own all the retail businesses but mainly because Sheeple just love it when their lives are made 0.5 seconds more convenient.

          1. Anonymous Coward

            @You Are Not Free

            I'd say it's more along the lines of 15 seconds - but what's an order of magnitude among friends? Plus, the issue isn't just the time; it's the obnoxiousness of doing all that crap, and then doing it again while wrestling a bottle of mountain dew and a package of swiss rolls off the counter.

            It's a pain in the ass, and whether you think it's morally appropriate to appreciate one of life's small annoyances being relieved isn't relevant to the question.

            I did not post a treatise on NFC's broader social implications. I said that it would make my life a bit easier. I did not say that I approved of Big Korporate HegeMoney controlling our minds. I mean, I totally do, but I didn't say it.

            Honestly, the fact that you actually used the term 'sheeple' suggests that you're more concerned with carefully establishing your cognitive superiority than you are with providing a relevant, non-hyperventilating argument.

            You need help - you're one step up from that scraggly guy at the bus station. You know, the one waving a five dollar bill at you, and rasping, "They got computer strings in these things, man! They're TRACKING you! You can SEE it in there!"

            I suggest you go buy a Mountain Dew and a package of Swiss Rolls. You'll feel much better (after consuming them, not just after buying them; that's an important part). And you can pay with cash - or, if you *really* want to show how anti-establishment you are, you can pay with a *check*. That'll learn that lumberjack a thing or two.

            1. You Are Not Free

              "Plus, the issue isn't just the time; it's the obnoxiousness of doing all that crap, and then doing it again while wrestling a bottle of mountain dew and a package of swiss rolls off the counter."

              So, all this tech is being developed and implemented at great cost simply so that people have half a second less hassle when paying for stuff and it's clearly not about making money for the credit card and payment providers who are investing large fortunes funding it all - Sheeple logic at it's finest. Bury head in sand, fingers in ears, LALALALALALALA.

              Problem sheeple?

              Also, who said I am anti-establishment? It's just the truth.

              1. Anonymous Coward

                OK, the horse has left the building and I've shut the barn doors after elvis bolted, but ... dude... you've gotta get over the sheep stuff. I understand that you're so much smarter than everyone else, but if you hate those sheeple so much, why are you so vehemently trying to protect them?

                As far as I can tell, there are two possibilities:

                a) You're a hypocrite, and enjoy railing against things so much that you pretend to care.

                2) You feel that these problems pose a danger to you yourself, and use the guise of caring about the sheeple to make yourself look good. To whom isn't clear, though, since you, like that crazy church that pickets military funerals, believe that pretty much everyone else in the world is an idiot.

                III) You have a powerful, personal, and soulful passion for sheep.

                11) See 2) except you consider yourself to be an angry, tech-literate Jesus, but more right and you hate the sheep.

                I honestly don't know which one it might be. Perhaps... *chin scratch* don't know either... Regardless, I bet you refer to people you work with as 'cow orkers'. Am I right, or am I right? ...You -do- have a job, don't you?

                Anyway, I think now I'm going to make sure to get a phone with this feature. The korporate overlord$ can count one more sherson among their flock.

  12. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Double fail....

    First off, why would they assume with Android devices having NFC, that it'll magically take off just because it's in Apple's next rather mediocre phone? Fail number one.

    Fail number two is the whole tech. I just don't see the appeal of having money sucked out of my wallet by radio, as opposed to pulling out my card and swiping it or (god forbid!) paying cash. I just have the feeling this is going to have grave security problems sooner rather than later. As a practical matter, here in the states, I've never seen as single credit card machine that would read a chip, and have only seen one card with a chip on it.. the magnetic strip is king here.

    1. Darryl

      Sorry, Henry, that's where you're wrong.

      It WILL magically take off when Apple finally adds it to their phone. Reason being, Apple will flood the world with commercials about how "If you have an iPhone, you have iPay, and you can pay for stuff with your phone." and the media will be falling all over themselves to gush about Apple's new innovation that's taking the world by storm.

      It's really amazing to watch, actually.

      Case in point, an article on The Register dedicated to a rumour that Apple may add a feature to their new phone that most of the competition already have. oooooohhh, aaaaaahhhh!

    2. Charles 9 Silver badge

      A few reasons.

      "As a practical matter, here in the states, I've never seen as single credit card machine that would read a chip, and have only seen one card with a chip on it.. the magnetic strip is king here."

      One, you will find that some places can be very backward. There are in fact a few places still in existence that use IMPRINTERS. Reason being that any form of telecommunication where they are is either too expensive or not reliable enough. Getting them to accept Chip cards may be too much of a stretch, and denying them credit card access altogether could be a business killer. After all, why else would they take the cards in the first place if not to draw more business?

      Second, the credit card companies don't care too much about common, everyday usage. That's why they have the "small ticket" exception available, which means you don't have to sign for transactions below some minor threshold ($25US is common).

      Third, a lot of Americans can use their bank cards at points of sale. These are Stripe-and-PIN setups, which fits better with American leeriness about remote access and smarter card tech. They're comfortable with stripes and still get the added security of the PIN setup. AND it usually costs less for a retailer to do a bank debit AND many retailers will offer cash back to boot to draw more business and let customers save on ATM fees.

      I think if anything, Americans are more likely to LEAPFROG Chip cards and go straight to Contactless, and before you counter about identity theft, last I read there is a challenge-response system in place that uses PKC to authenticate transactions. How would one go about getting at the good stuff without giving themselves away in the authentication process?

  13. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    NFC == WTF?

    N = No

    F = Frigging

    C = Chance

    Of me ever in a million years enabling this on any device I own. iPhone, Android or whatever.

    So what if there is a $10 or whatver limit per transaction. Buying everyone a Latte in Starbucks at 08:30 in the morning will soon make a huge dent in what is (or rather was) in your bank account.

    Imagine what will happen when this happens a few days before payday. You go into the red and incur huge charges per transaction for an unauthorised overdraft. Will you ever get any of your money back? Like heck you will.

    Doomed to fail in my eyes.

    1. sabba

      It might be doomed to fail... might well, from a security perspective, have more holes than Costa Cruises ship... But that' not to say that a whole raft of lazy arsed idiots won't automatically sign up for it 'just cos it stops 'em having to think'. Of course once enough of these idiots have been scammed, or simply gone over their credit limit, there might well be a backlash. But that will take a while and you should never, ever, underestimate the general public's propensity for stupidity.

  14. Dazed and Confused Silver badge

    Chicken or the Egg

    Apple are going to have a hard time proving Samsung haven't been doing this first. People were waving their phones at machines in coffee bars in Seoul when I first went their about 4 years ago.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How could the developer do the coding without tha api?

    I call bs.

  16. Dare to Think

    Good move

    Nokia brought out the C7 with an NFC chip in 2010....never mind the Nokia 6131 which was the first NFC phone in 2006, which shows again how advanced actually Nokia is. But admittedly, a good marketing move by Apple Inc., convincing all fanbois to dump their iPhone 4 and hand over hard earned cash because the iPhone 5 is soooo much now has NFC.

    1. Kerry Hoskin

      Apple invented NFC

      it'll be called iTouch and Apple will of course try and take credit for inventing the whole NFC technology don't you know

  17. Graham Bartlett

    @AC: API

    You've not heard of the adapter/wrapper design pattern then? This bloke could easily write code for a Nokia with NFC and get it working, and then would only need to change the adapter layer (and perhaps the UI layout) for it to work perfectly on an iPhone.

  18. trigpoint

    Big Mac and fries to go

    I just want to buy a big mac using my N9.

    But seriously I would be happier with this as eCash and not a credit/debit card. So max loss is say £50. Would still need to top up, but a least the cashpoint won't be empty.

    Why do cashpoints wait until you have entered your pin before telling you they are empty, why not put "No Cash" on the screen?

  19. spider from mars

    will it work with FeliCa?

  20. sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD

    Rev 13:17

    F@!# that.... Is this what we are becoming?

  21. Wize

    I'm not a fan of NFC payment.

    How long after this becomes popular do we start to see drive by swipings?

    Don't tell me its hackproof as thats just throwing someone a gauntlet. There have already been cases of chip and pin hacking.

    It might only have a limit of £10 per person, but standing beside the ticket barrier at a busy tube station will get you a lot of passers with cards/phones/etc in handy swipe range.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Thing is...

      "Don't tell me its hackproof as thats just throwing someone a gauntlet. There have already been cases of chip and pin hacking."

      That gauntlet (defeating a public-key infrastructure) has actually been on the ground for some time, and while early implementations have fallen to faster computing and chinks have been found in various contemporary algorithms, I don't recall any contemporary, widely-used algorithm being blown wide open lately.

  22. MJI Silver badge

    I know people love their Apple phones

    But not so much to bonk them.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @MJI: You'd hope not

      But hospitals get plenty of work removing phones from patient's orifices.

      Lets face it, why else would they vibrate :-)

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I don't want to get my phone out and show everyone

    every time I buy a coffee or a beer. Nor do I want to risk dropping it or leaving it on the counter. My phone cost me just over £150- I rarely carry that much cash in my wallet.

  24. Occams_Cat

    oh goodie.

    Great news, I look forward to being able to whip out a £700 electrical gadget just to pay for menial everyday goods such as newspapers and tube rides. This is a big step forward & so much more convenient and secure than chip & pin and cash...

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Don't you know?

      Many people have their iPhones out ALREADY by the time they get to checkout. After all, who else is telling them the ever-changing shopping list! So just bonking the already-exposed phone really would be better than fumbling through pockets or purses for a card--that may not even be there (you ever get those "I left it at home" scenarios?).

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