Today's the day Apple unveils the successor to the iPhone 5. Here's a look at the leaks, patent applications and other rumors that shed light on the company's mobile payment plans.
• Apple has already confirmed plans for an iCloud keychain, which would store consumers' passwords and credit card info for mobile and online shopping.
• Apple's software-based Passbook wallet, which collects third-party payments apps, is likely to get at least a cosmetic update. Apple's redesigned iOS operating system will move away from skeuomorphic design (wherein software mimics the appearance of physical-world items), likely shedding the features that make Passbook resemble a physical wallet.
• Apple is also planning a built-in fingerprint scanner, according to a "persistent rumor." If Apple pairs this technology with its iCloud keychain, it would be the latest of many companies to attempt to secure payments with fingerprint biometrics.
• Apple could use the fingerprint reader alongside its "card swipe" patent, which describes a method for approving mobile payments by swiping a finger across the phone's screen to approve or decline a transaction.
• Apple might also pair the fingerprint reader with a Near Field Communication chip for contactless payments, according to an Apple patent examined by the website 9to5Mac.
• Apple has never put NFC into its iPhone, iPad or iPod devices. However, a month ago a newly revealed patent application indicated Apple's ongoing interest in using NFC technology at the point of sale.
• Echoing Samsung's recent reveal of an NFC smartwatch accessory to its new Galaxy Note 3 smartphone, Apple might preview plans for its own iWatch — a product made more likely by Apple's purchase of Passif Semiconductor Corp.
Whatever Apple reveals at its iPhone event, the company has many more ideas in the works, based on a treasure trove of payments patents and patent applications.