So far the iPhone has been a holdout, leaving only half of US smartphones equipped with NFC today, according to Jackdaw Research.
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Google, whose Android operating system powers Samsung's Galaxy smartphones, tried to kick-start the market for NFC-based payments in 2011 with its Wallet app, allowing customers to transact through dedicated terminals at US stores and restaurants.
But while NFC phones have become popular in some markets such as Japan, where they are widely used to make payments on public transport, the plastic credit card has so far remained stubbornly resistant to technological disruption.
Adoption of Google Wallet in the US remains limited and other efforts to persuade customers to use their smartphones for payments, such as Square's Wallet app, PayPal and telecoms joint-venture Isis also remain at an early stage.
If Apple entered the market, "millions of consumers in the US would suddenly have a tightly integrated solution built into their devices," said Jackdaw analyst Jan Dawson in a blogpost this week, although it would "still suffer – at least at first – from the same problem of a lack of terminals which could accept payments."