For the first time Korea Telecom adds wireless payments functions to the iPhone 4.

Korea Telecom KT (Korea’s No. 2 mobile carrier), has released a new iPhone 4 case incorporating near-field communication (NFC) technology, which KT claims is an industry first. The NFC technology allows iPhone customers to pay for public transportation including the subway by passing the iPhone 4 over an electronic reader. NFC is regarded as critical technology needed to connect the physical and virtual environments. It offers secure wireless two-way communication between a mobile phone and reception devices such as other mobile phones, payment terminals or identification readers.

The iPhone 4 doesn’t support the NFC payment system, so KT formed an alliance with Canada-based Wireless Dynamics for the NFC-enabled case. Apple is mulling the possibility of including a Qualcomm chip supporting wireless payments in its next handset, the iPhone 5. KT has sold over 2.7 million iPhones since they were released in South Korea, while its biggest local rival SK Telecom has sold some 450,000 as it has only recently offered the device.