Apple Inc. has the power to make mobile payments huge, but not quite in the way bankers hope. Several recently unveiled patent applications indicate that the Cupertino, Calif., company has a comprehensive vision for incorporating near-field communication chips — widely considered a crucial element for mobile payments — into its iPhone.

Numerous payments companies have developed NFC systems that can turn phones into versatile financial tools, but few have gone beyond the pilot phase because phone makers and wireless carriers have been reluctant to incorporate the chips into their hardware.

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