Have you personally seen or executed an NFC transaction? That was the question posed by Nokia’s director of business development for devices, Damien Balsan during a panel on near field communications (NFC) at yesterday’s Money Over Mobile session. About a third of the audience raised their hands.
“Actually, you all have,” Balsan corrected, citing the door attendants that touch their Nokia feature phone to attendees’ badges when they enter an educational session here at CTIA Wireless.
While Balsan and the other three panelists agreed that this is truly the “launch year” for NFC, they also came to the consensus that it’s going to be baby steps from here. Citing a host of challenges still ahead for the mass adoption of contactless payments on the mobile phone, the industry will first deploy “simple” solutions (like badge scanning) in order to condition the public and exploit the many use cases for the technology.
“At least people are talking about it,” remarked Amitaabh Malhotra, co-founder and COO of DeviceFidelity, which was one of the first companies to get NFC technology onto MicroSD cards.
And indeed people are talking about NFC, as well as bringing various solutions to market. Almost every major OEM in the past few months has talked about their plans to get NFC onto their devices, to the point that it’s starting to sound like a standard feature for most smartphones. And then there’s the carriers clamoring to get in on the ground floor with initiatives like ISIS.
But NFC, at least as a payment solution, is still fragile. “The banks, the financial institutions have to be ensured that we’re offering both an open solution, as well a secure one,” said Jean-Louis Carrara, vice president of business development for Gemalto.
“For this technology to be successful, we need everyone to be comfortable, from the issuers to the users… All it takes is the slightest bit of bad press and NFC solutions get rolled back,” Carrara said.
Getting everyone on the same page and comfortable is part of those initial solutions. While you may not be paying for groceries with your smartphone this year, it’s very possible you could be checking out a trailer for new movie just by touching your phone to the movie poster. It’s those kinds of tasks that get consumers acquainted with a new technology.
It seems like we’ve heard these visions of the NFC-enabled future year in and year out, and you’re forgiven if you’re still skeptical. Nevertheless, the evidence is pretty strong that another life-changing technology from the wireless industry is beginning to see adoption.
Had your badge scanned lately?