Will Apple’s move into NFC mobile payment reshape industry alliances?

My eye was caught today by a story on TechCrunch (an excellent blog BTW) that Apple may incorporate near field communications technology (NFC) into its next generation of devices, thereby enabling ‘real’ payments on the move. For those confused as to the difference between mobile payment for real and virtual goods the easiest way to think about it is to think about what would happen  if you ever tried to buy a can of your favourite soft drink via the iTunes Apps store.

In a prior post about the eco-system for mobile money I described my conceptual mental map of three overlapping circles – traditional bank and credit cards, internet payment and mobile payment.  As the TechCrunch article makes clear, this would position Apple bang in the middle of the intersection between mobile and internet payment and could be another ‘game-changer’. For me, the real question is here is who does what to react? Players in each of the circles have to date tended to define their competitors by reference to their existing competitors and there is not currently significant co-operation across the circles (until you tell me otherwise of course…).

It seems to me that Apple’s move (which of course is unconfirmed) will require some of the other players to co-operate in order to react. It is an issue I am spending some time on at the moment, by undertaking some primary research with some of the market players. To the extent confidentiality permits I will share any insights in future posts.