“Apple doesn’t discuss future product plans, but it appears likely that the company is aggressively pursuing the development of technologies that replace IDs, passwords and credit cards,” Mike Elgan reports for Computerworld.

“Two years ago, Apple was in the news for patenting a range of biometric ID tools for the iPhone, such as a voice recognition system, a retinal scanner that uses the phone’s camera or, most likely, a system that uses the screen to scan fingerprints,” Elgan reports. “Last year, Apple hired an expert in Near Field Communication, or NFC, to head up the company’s Mobile Commerce department. NFC is technology that enables the transfer of data over distances of just a few inches — a model that’s far more secure and reliable than, say, Bluetooth. Other inside sources have been quoted as saying that Apple plans to build NFC into the iPhone 5. Apple has also recently advertised three job openings related to payment platforms and short-range wireless data transfers. And Apple has been granted NFC-related patents.”

Elgan reports, “Of course, it could be a while before you can use an iPhone as a universal debit card. It could take Apple some time to establish the partnerships and programs necessary to get every gas station and grocery store to support iTunes. But the password-killing ID card functionality could exist on Apple systems as early as this year, or most likely next year… I believe that it will soon be possible to live without passwords or credit cards. If Apple builds in these capabilities, you can be sure Google will. And if Apple and Google do it, so will all of their competitors.”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Fred Mertz” and “Brawndo Drinker” for the heads up.]