The company plans to include the short-range wireless technology NFC (Near Field Communication) in new versions of its Windows Phone 7 operating system, Bloomberg Business Week reported Wednesday, citing two unnamed sources familiar with the plans.
NFC enables devices to collect data from other devices nearby, and is seen as a useful payment mechanism. Users would simply wave their phones in front of a special cash register in order to purchase products.
While most phones have yet to be equipped with NFC, rumors about the payment technology aren’t hard to find.
Apple hired an NFC expert in August, while leaked patents suggest that the iPhone 5 may support NFC. Google, which released the first NFC-enabled Android phone in December, has reportedly teamed up with Mastercard and Citigroup to create a contactless mobile payment system for Android phones.
Adding NFC functionality to its OS would make sense for Microsoft on several levels. For one, the company recently announced a partnership with Nokia that makes Windows Phone 7 the default OS on future Nokia smartphones — and Nokia announced last year that all of its new smartphones would be equipped with support for NFC, starting in 2011.
For another, smartphone OS developers, smartphone manufacturers, credit card companies and even mobile network providers are all scrambling to figure out where they fit in the impending mobile contactless payments space. It’s about time Microsoft got a rumor out there.