Apple could give its customers access to Mastercard's PayPass application in order to utilize near-field communications technology on its next-gen iPhone.
The company is expected to add an NFC chip to what is now being called the iPhone 5, the follow up handset to the successful 4S.
Ed McLaughlin, the head of emerging payments at Mastercard, recently made some comments to Fast Company regarding Apple's possible partnership with his company.
When asked to give an estimate for when paying with a smartphone would become more commonplace, McLaughlin dropped a few hints about Apple's future in the industry.
"The timeline is always as rapid as it makes sense for consumers," he said. "That's a combination of having critical mass of the merchants, which is what you're seeing right now and getting devices into the hands of consumers. I don't know of a handset manufacturer that isn't in process of making sure their stuff is PayPass ready."
When asked if that would include Apple, McLaughlin replied with a hint rather than a confirmation, and the tech giant has a reputation for staying secretive up to the last minute before a device is launched.
"Um, there are … like I say, [I don't know of] any handset maker out there," he said. "Now, when we have discussions with our partners, and they ask us not to disclose them, we don't."
He also explained how Apple has the ability to transform entire industries the way it did with iTunes. No one purchased music digitally before Apple introduced its service that revolutionized record sales. MP3 players, tablets and smartphones also were made popular by Apple's iPod, iPhone and iPad.
Apple's entrance into contactless payments with NFC can bring that technology to another level, according to McLaughlin.
"Well anytime someone with a major base moves forward, it advances what you're doing," he added.
Tech site 9to5Mac feels that he wants to confirm his company's partnership badly, but is prohibited by Apple.
However, there is no official confirmation on the next-gen iPhone including an NFC chip. It seems to be the norm for smartphones to have one, which is probably why experts are assuming that the iPhone 5 will.