Loyalty and membership reward cards could find a digital home on the iPhone 6 if speculations that Apple will be announcing a new NFC-based digital wallet hold true. In addition to rumors of Apple working with banks, credit card issuers, merchants, and retailers, Apple may also be working on expanding loyalty and reward cards in the new digital wallet, which could allow iPhone 6 owners to replace their physical wallets.
According to a report, global hotel group IHG International may be a key partner. Currently, in Apple's Passbook application on the iPhone, users are able to store select loyalty and membership cards from SPG, AAA, and Walgreens. These cards are accessible to merchant systems via a bar code, rather than a tap-to-pay NFC method. The NFC method could make it easier, though it would require new hardware.
According to Bank Innovation, the new NFC-based loyalty card wallet would be tied into iTunes, and Apple has shown that it is looking to hire a marketing manager to handle loyalty programs, though the job description cited was vague.
Apple is looking to hire a senior worldwide partner marketing manager for iTunes, who will be tasked to "develop digital and physical assets, programs and training materials to deploy across external partners in the U.S. and other regions." Among other tasks, this person will work with the iTunes business, product, and engineering teams to "define requirements to create marketing briefs focused on driving customer adoption of existing and new features." The position also requires a "deep knowledge of the retail landscape from both a physical and digital perspective" and "experience working with external agencies and vendors to consistently deliver against firm deadlines."
Various competing digital wallets have already begun integrating loyalty and membership cards, including the competing Google Wallet, which also relies on NFC for payment on select Android phone models.
Do you think Apple could ignite the NFC payment market? Tune into iMore tomorrow as we'll be covering Apple's iPhone 6 announcement live.