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Next iPhone, iPad may have mobile payment chip

You may be able to use the next iPhone and iPad to pay for merchandise or tickets, with versions of the devices this year expected to include the chip that makes that possible.

Google's recent Nexus S Android phone has the ability using the Near Field Communication chip. But previously, in the United States, there hasn't been much use for devices with NFC, with the financial industry not in agreement about standards and procedures. That's changing, and using a phone or tablet to pay for purchases is becoming a more palatable idea.

Richard Doherty, director of consulting firm Envisioneering Group, told Bloomberg News that the next iPhone and iPad will use NFC technology, and that engineers are working on hardware for Apple. Apple has declined comment, as it usually does on products that are not yet announced.

Doherty says the NFC-enabled iPhone and iPad will be released this year. According to the Bloomberg report:

Apple’s service may be able to tap into user information already on file, including credit-card numbers, iTunes gift-card balance and bank data, said Richard Crone, who leads financial industry adviser Crone Consulting LLC in San Carlos, California. That could make it an alternative to programs offered by such companies as Visa Inc., MasterCard Inc. and EBay Inc.’s PayPal, said Taylor Hamilton, an analyst at consultant IBISWorld Inc.

“It would make a lot of sense for Apple to include NFC functionality in its products,” Crone said.

Last week, Starbucks announced customers with certain iPhones, as well as iPod Touches and some BlackBerrys —and in the near future, Android phones — will be able to buy coffee with a wave of the devices.

But that program requires that customers download an app for their device, then use it in conjunction with their Starbucks card, not as simple or direct as using NFC.