By Sonali Mishra
The Near Field Communications (NFC) market is just beginning to gain traction and is set to expand rapidly as more and more firms start to embrace this solution. Ignited by support from key wireless players, such as Nokia, Google and mobile operators, global usage of near field communication (NFC) technology in mobile devices is expected to begin an explosive growth phase.
NFC In the Real World- Moving Beyond Payments
Now the question arises what use cases can this technology provide us beyond payments? NFC , puts a chip in devices, like cell phones, that makes it possible to, not only use your phone to make purchases in a store, but ultimately replace a lot of other things you normally carry around in your wallet. NFC-enabled phones have the potential to replace the card for getting into your hotel room, your business card, your public transportation (i.e bus, train) card, concert, sports or other event tickets, your boarding pass for getting on a plane.
NFC tags have already reached a price point where it is feasible to print off batches of NFC stickers that enable users to create special ‘short cuts’ that make their lives easier. For example, when a child gets home from school, he or she could touch an NFC sticker just inside the door that sends an ‘I’m home from school’ message to a parent. Older people with poor sight or suffering from arthritis could have NFC stickers containing friends’ and family members’ phone numbers saved on them – these could be stuck to the corners of photographs of these people and, when touched with an NFC-enabled phone, would initiate a phone call to the right person, without the need to look up phone numbers or use the keypad.
Another key use case is setting up secure connections between devices. For example at Google IO there was a demonstration of using NFC for mobile gaming. When one Android device has launched a game if it touches another NFC Android device it will establish a Bluetooth link and launch the game on the second device thus removing a lot of complexity for the user.
Using a peer to peer scenario, NFC can also be used to sync devices, share mobile apps with your friends (e.g gifting the latest must have game) and transfer photos between cameras, smartphones or tablets.
Another key aspect for NFC is speed. Using NFC simplifies data exchange and for payments can significantly reduce waiting times. This aspect alone is likely to be a key driver of consumer adoption in many markets.
NFC-enabled handset shipments to boom, says IHS iSuppli
The decision by three major US wireless carriers to partner with leading credit card companies on a mobile commerce initiative will boost the market for embedded payment technology in cell phones,helping global shipments of handsets with near field communication (NFC) technology to rise to nearly 550 million units by 2015,according to IHS iSuppli. AT&T,Verizon and T-Mobile recently announced that they would work with Visa and MasterCard on their Isis joint venture,which was established to form a nationwide infrastructure for NFC-enabled mobile payments using mobile handsets in the US. The original Isis JV did not include the two largest US credit card companies.
NFC deployment will be service driven, not a technology push
NFC is a broad and complex ecosystem –new services, new opportunities, intersection of multiple industries. Google is working on both ends of the NFC ecosystem. As highlighted above it has already implemented NFc in it’s mobile OS and plans for further use cases to be developed. Payment, P2P sharing, access and ticketing via NFC phones are the first applications; others, especially for consumer electronics, will follow. Building the NFC ecosystem requires cooperation among the stakeholders and that’s the purpose of NFC forum founded by Philips,Nokia and Sony.
UK's four leading mobile networks Orange, O2, T Mobile and Vodafone have announced plans to create a joint venture company that will deliver the technology required for the speedy adoption of mobile wallet and payments. Currently people take their mobile, wallet and keys when they leave home. In the near future, it is expected that people will start leaving their wallet at home, and in the midterm their keys may also be integrated into their mobile as NFC allows the mobile to act as a digital access card. The joint venture is the next phase in realizing that ambition.
Clearly NFC is just at the beginning of a journey but it will be a journey that further enriches the consumer experience and one that will also quicken the convergence between the mobile, consumer electronics and automotive industries.