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Apple Grants Third-Party App Developers Access to iPhone’s NFC Chip

Executive Summary

  • With the latest iOS 11 development tool kit update released earlier this month, Apple granted access to the near-field communications (NFC) chip used in the iPhone to third-party app developers for the first time. Until now, Apple Pay was the only application allowed to use the NFC chip.
  • We view Apple’s move to open more opportunities for NFC applications as sensible, given that the majority of Android or Windows smartphones in use today support NFC connections. The impact on retail, however, will likely be limited, as currently only iPhone 7 and 7 Plus support the NFC Data Exchange Format (NDEF) according to Apple’s framework.
  • It is unclear whether Apple will eventually push full NFC functionality to older iPhone models. However, for now, given the relatively small size of the user base for iPhone 7 and 7 Plus compared to that for Android, we do not envision any immediate impact on NFC adoption in the consumer space.

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