Sources familiar with Apple plans have apparently confirmed that the iPhone 5 and the iPad 2 will come with Near Field Communication technology capable of transmitting and receiving information up to 100mm.
Bloomberg cites Richard Doherty, director of consulting firm Envisioneering Group, who in turn refers to unnamed Apple engineers claiming to have worked on the hardware.
Apple already handles a wide variety of user data, including credit card details, basic banking data, user preferences and location, and so could become a viable alternative to the likes of Visa, Mastercard and even Paypal.
We understand, based on our previous discussions with French technology company Gemalto, that NFC could also be used for location-based services - especially mobile ads - something Apple may look at as part of its iAd service.
But NFC could have other applications as well including initiating communication between Apple devices on short distances, making it an ideal substitute for Bluetooth for example.
Doherty says that Apple has already created a test payment terminal that small businesses may use and is considering either subsidising or giving it away to retailers to roll it out as far as possible.
The service could be rolled out as early as mid-2011, which if true, would come just in time for the iPhone 5 launch. You can read our coverage of Near Field Communication on the iPhone 5 here.