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The iPhone 5 has finally been released, but without supporting NFC (Near Field Communication). On the other hand, with the features of the new application Passbook, Apple is offering businesses new ways to interact with their customers. It seems that the Cupertino company has adopted a strategy of baby steps, starting with the extensive spreading of passes, and then introducing electronic mobile transactions. At the moment, Passbook is not a real digital wallet because it still doesn’t work like a credit card. It may contain, however, prepaid cards, loyalty cards, discount coupons, event tickets and boarding passes, or all kinds of cards that until now have been made of paper, and Passbook may represent a new frontier in the supplier-consumer relationship. It seems that Apple has thrown a stone into the sea of mobile business and is waiting for the developers around the world to propose solutions which they can move to in the future.
This attitude is also evident in the significant tweak to its Apps for Passbook section of the App Store. Clicking the Passbook link now brings you to not only a list of compatible apps, but also an additional new paragraph that explains the Passbook features.Passbook is the simplest way to store your boarding passes, tickets, coupons, gift cards and more in one place. With Passbook, you can scan your iPhone or iPod touch to check in for a flight, get into a movie, or redeem a coupon. Wake your iPhone or iPod touch, and passes appear on your Lock screen at the appropriate time and place. Explore our collection of apps that work with Passbook and check back often as new partners will be added regularly.
In this way, Apple is trying to help the greatest number of developers to use and test its new application in order to increase global awareness of the features of what should be the first step towards a digital-wallet strategy.
It is no coincidence that Apple has not made it easy to create and distribute Passbook passes. First of all, you need to have an Apple developer licence, which costs $99 per year. Then, in order to create a pass you need specific knowledge of the JSON format, to which you can add the generation of an Apple Development Portal certificate, the compilation or writing of a validation program and signature files, and the creation of a compressed archive with .pkpass format. And even that is not enough, because companies that want to use the dynamic passes (that update in real time and carry the push notifications) also need a private server that supports these types of actions, since Apple does not provide a similar service. For an international airline company with great economic and financial scope these are not major problems, but for everyone else?
Because of the problems previously outlined, services such as Passdock have been developed. They do not require a server or the ability of programmers, and they make it easy for everyone to create, manage and distribute Passbook passes. When there is a substantial adoption of Passbook at all levels of business, Apple will be the first in line to take the decisive step towards NFC transactions on the iPhone.
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