Apple plans to include near field communication (NFC) technology in its next versions of the iPhone and iPad in order to support a new mobile payment system, according to a new report. Citing Richard Crone, leader of financial industry adviser Crone Consulting, and Richard Doherty, director of consulting firm Envisioneering Group who claims to have spoken with Apple engineers working on the project, Bloomberg reports that Apple’s system may be able to tap into existing user information, such as credit card numbers, iTunes account balances, and bank data. “It would make a lot of sense for Apple to include NFC functionality in its products,” Crone said. According to Doherty, Apple could launch the mobile payment service as early as mid-2011, and has already created a prototype payment terminal that would allow small businesses to accept payment from NFC-enabled iPhones and iPads. He added that Apple is considering offering heavy subsidies on the terminal, or even giving it away, in order to encourage faster adoption. Apple hired Benjamin Vigier, a veteran of NFC development, as its new product manager for mobile commerce last August.