NFC-iPhone

The chatter regarding Apple’s next-generation handset, the iPhone 5S, has stayed fairly consistent over the past few months. The talk points to a device with an iPhone 5-like design, an improved camera system and other internal upgrades.

Another rumor that continues to surface is that the phone will feature a built-in fingerprint sensor. And it’s popped up again this morning in a new report, claiming the 5S will use that and NFC to push Apple further into mobile payments…

Macotakara points to a new China Times report (via MacRumors) that alleges that Chipbond, a Taiwanese chip-maker, has been tapped to manufacturer several components for the upcoming iPhone 5S, including a touch display driver.

More interesting, though, is that it’s also said to be providing chips for the handset that support both a fingerprint sensor and NFC tech. The report explains the two features will enhance the security and capabilities of iOS-driven mobile payments.

To say that we’re skeptical here would be a huge understatement. It’s hard to imagine Apple slapping a fingerprint sensor anywhere on its sleek smartphone. And the NFC rumor has become a yearly pre-iPhone launch tradition at this point.

But that being said, one could make a strong case for the two components if it involved Apple’s future plans for its mobile payment platform. Right now, Passbook just includes digital card storage and barcode scanning. But it could be so much more.

It’s also worth noting that the fingerprint reader theory has been very popular since Apple acquired sensor expert AuthenTec last summer. The reliable Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities has mentioned it in multiple reports, as have other Apple insiders.

And with close to 500 million credit card-connected iTunes accounts, Apple certainly has the user base and resources to make a huge play in the mobile payment space. But whether it’s going to do that with the iPhone 5S or not, is still anyone’s guess.

The 5S is believed to already be in production and is scheduled to launch sometime this summer.