updated 09:55 am EDT, Wed October 3, 2012
Tech said to be expressly related to NFC payments
Apple has signed a deal with an Australian company, MicroLatch, to work on fingerprint recognition technology, The Australian reports. The information comes by way of David Murray, formerly the head of the Commonwealth Bank and now a major MicroLatch investor. He claims that the help Apple wants is explicitly related to mobile payments using NFC (near-field communications). MicroLatch has patented fingerprint technology said to meet banking security standards without the need for central processing, something Murray calls a "self-registering" system.
The MicroLatch arrangements shed more light on the reason for Apple's buyout of AuthenTec earlier this year. SEC filings indicated that Apple wanted the company's IP for "commercialization of 2D fingerprint sensors for use in or with Apple products," but no mention was made of NFC or mobile payments. It now appears that Apple wants to equip iOS devices with built-in fingerprint scanners to approve mobile transactions; by extension, it may allow people to secure an entire device's contents that way.
NFC has been rumored for the iPhone since before the launch of the iPhone 4S, but failed to materialize for that device or the iPhone 5. iOS 6, however, does include Passbook, a ticketing/coupon app that may be laying the groundwork for how transactions will work with the next iPhone.