Satoru Iwata revealed to investors that the Wii U controller will feature Near Field Communication (NFC) functions.
The wireless technology is commonly used in non-contact transactions such as swiping travel cards and making credit or debit card payments. It's Iwata's description of the technology's applications, however, that most intrigues:
By installing this functionality, it will become possible to create cards and figurines that can electronically read and write data via noncontact NFC and to expand the new play format in the video game world. Adoption of this functionality will enable various other possibilities such as using it as a means of making micropayments.
Making online transactions with a non-contact card would certainly be convenient, but it's the idea of gameplay cards and figures that offers most possibility: could Nintendo be preparing a Skylanders-style system for Wii U, or was the e-reader rumour really referring to the resurrection of Game Boy Advance's card reader?