Apple has won a patent that adds another piece to the puzzle of mobile payments via near-field communications.
Dubbed "Motion based payment confirmation," the new patent details several ways to help the user confirm that a mobile transaction has actually been completed while using a mobile device like an iPhone or iPod.
One method points to a graphical element on the screen that the user can move to confirm or decline a transaction. Another method cites the use of an accelerometer to sense movement of the device and move the graphical element in response.
Artwork in the patent specifically refers to NFC as one platform for the mobile payment confirmation.
Payment transactions increasingly occur without the use of physical payment objects such as credit cards or cash. For example, online purchases may be made using credit card information stored in an online account maintained by a merchant or by a payment service such as PayPal. Further, financial account information may be stored on electronic devices and transferred using contactless means, such as near field communication (NFC), radio-frequency identification (RFID), or networking, to complete payment transactions.
Due to the speed and "virtual nature" of mobile payments, the user could accidentally authorize a transaction or not realize the consequences of doing so, according to Apple. The technology outlined in the patent is designed to make sure the user avoids such pitfalls by receiving the necessary confirmation.
Since this patent was awarded just today, the underlying technology is not likely to surface just yet.
However, recent rumors claim that the iPhone 5 could include the necessary hardware to enable NFC-based mobile payments. Photos allegedly of the new phone's assembly posted by Taiwan-based blog Apple.pro reveal a mysterious new part that has the same dimensions as certain NFC chips.