Deutsche Telekom confirms iPhone 5 NFC rumours

Taking the stage at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Deutsche Telekom announced its plans for a near-field communications payment system - and accidentally outed Apple's plans for NFC in the iPhone 5 at the same time.

Deutsche Telekom, the German parent company of global mobile provider T-Mobile, announced at this year's MWC its plans to start pushing a mobile payment system based on near-field communications technology by launching multiple NFC-equipped handsets in 2011.

The release of NFC-capable hardware, which will pick up speed ahead of the full roll-out of a system the company calls 'Mobile Wallet' in 2012, sees the company partner with several handset makers to push NFC-equipped smartphones into the market - and a slip by an executive at the event suggests a familiar name will be taking part.

It's long been rumoured that Apple is looking to add NFC technology to the next-generation iPhone 5 smartphone and, despite silence from Cupertino on the matter, it has been considered a near certainty. With Google pushing NFC technology with its Android platform, including a recent update that adds both read and write capabilities to its Nexus S handset, Apple would be crazy if it didn't at least consider jumping on the bandwagon.

As usual, however, the company is playing its cards close to its chest - both to prevent competitors from getting a handle on its plans and to ensure that the launch announcement can seem to be 'changing the game' again.

Sadly for Apple, the surprise has been truly spoiled with a Deutsche Telekom executive naming Apple as a partner in its NFC programme - confirming that the next-generation iPhone handset will include the same near-field communications technology as Google introduced in its Samsung-manufactured Nexus S.

With Apple confirmed as an NFC fan, the pundits' predictions of the technology truly taking off in 2011 would appear to be accurate - but only time will tell if consumers can get used to paying for things with their smartphones, rather than their wallets.