NFC on Next iPhone Will Change Air Travel as We Know It

If the 6th generation Apple iPhone comes with near field communications (NFC) technology attached to it, the impact could be a game changer for the airline industry as we know it – particularly in terms of how passengers pay for and present their boarding passes.

Earlier this month when Apple lifted the curtain on its forthcoming “Passbook” app, NFC’s arrival on the iPhone seemed inevitable. And this fall, many analysts believe the time will finally come.

If so, no shortage of digital wallet and electronic ticketing services will be presented in lockstep with the launch of iOS 6. And the airline industry will immediately be influenced by this phenomenon says a top executive in the field.

Jim Peters, CTO at SITA, revealed at the Air Transport IT Summit in Brussels this week that the industry must gear up for the massive roll out of NFC.

Peters, according to coverage from IDG, said the technology will likely be global through the iPhone by year’s end.

“Boarding passes are going to be the next step with this technology,” he says. “NFC has had some tough times, because of problems similar to data sharing. This issue is around transaction sharing, where the network operators, Google and Blackberry are all arguing about who is going to get the money from all the NFC transactions. They aren’t thinking about the user… Who is thinking of the user? Apple. They don’t argue about it with anybody.”

“There is a lot of debate that NFC will never take off because of all the arguments,” Peters believes. “But you need to get ready, this is coming. This is going to happen. By the end of the year the majority of smartphones that you go and buy will have NFC on them. If in October the next iPhone comes out and it has NFC on it, it’s game over.”