Look around at predictions for what to expect with Apple’s iPhone 5, expected to hit the market next fall, and you’ll see one common point – the inclusion of a near field communication (NFC) chip. The chip enables quick, proximity-based interaction and is the cornerstone of many expected mobile payment systems, but relies heavily on critical mass.

According to a report by the Business Insider, however, the next version of the iPhone will not include such a chip.

The Business Insider quotes Wall Street research firm Bernstein as the source of the news, writing that “For the most part, the technology isn’t that widespread yet in the U.S. So, Apple’s decision to skip NFC on this iPhone probably isn’t a big deal.”

Predictions for the inclusion of the NFC chip have been made due to a number of factors, including Apple’s 2010 hire of a notable NFC expert alongside some patents that pointed in that direction. Google has already included NFC in its latest Android phone, the Nexus S, and included NFC demonstrations at its Google I/O developer conference last week.

Predictions aside, earlier rumors had stated precisely the opposite – that the iPhone 5 would indeed include an NFC chip. The Business Insider article doesn’t point to any reason that Apple wouldn’t include the chip in the next version of it’s iPhone. Apple-centric blog Apple Insider predicts that consumers may have to wait for the iPhone 6 in 2012, which it says “would jibe with other rumors that the next iPhone will not feature any significant changes to its hardware.”