It appears Apple doesn’t have grand plans for the iPad Air 2’s NFC chip after all. Following the surprise discovery of the chip by iFixit, many speculated the iPad Air 2 could be used as a cash register replacement, competing in the small business space against companies such as PayPal, Amazon and Square. It seemed like the perfect fit, especially with the recent launch of Apple Pay. But the NFC chip is apparently only being used as a Secure Element for Apple Pay in-app purchases.
“The iPad Air 2 lacks NFC antennas included in the iPhones, and we now know the NFC chip found inside is only being used as a secure Element for Apple Pay purchases in apps,” according to 9to5Mac.
The Secure Element included in the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 is meant to store account numbers associated with credit card information. Apple described this at length on its website, and made sure to mention it on stage following Apple Pay’s official reveal. Information is stored on a Secure Element to ensure nothing ever gets online—not to Apple servers, retail sites, or elsewhere. When payments are processed, a Device Account Number and transaction-specific dynamic security code are used so your information is never revealed.
So it doesn’t look like Apple’s new iPad Air 2 will be used as an NFC-based terminal for receiving Apple Pay payments. But that doesn’t mean Apple won’t explore that future down the road. So long as it includes the right NFC antennas. As iLounge points out, via 9to5Mac, Apple never sought FCC certification for NFC functionality for the iPad Air 2, which the company would have been required to do if it wanted to use the chip for wireless communications.