Near Field Communication (NFC) is yet another concept born overseas that’s starting to make waves in the mobile ecosystem. Bypassing barcodes and even SMS in terms of ease-of-use, NFC is a technology that’s here to stay.
Near Field Communication involves the inclusion of special technology built-in to mobile devices, much like bluetooth or WiFi is today, that would allow the device to communication with another NFC-enabled device, poster, etc. by simply touching the devices together, or touching your cell phone to a poster on the street, for example.
The real potential lies in what it could mean in terms of mobile payments and so-called “mobile wallets.” A new report published today suggests Near Field Communication will begin to replace traditional wallets as soon as 2011, and that banks and mobile networks will soon place heavy emphasis on NFC to fuel new mobile payment technologies.
“NFC technology will be used to replace everything from credit cards and loyalty cards to bus and train tickets, library cards, door keys and even cash,” says Sarah Clark, author of the report entitled ‘NFC: The Road to Commercial Deployment.’ “What hasn’t yet been decided, however, is who will win the battle to provide consumers with their new hi-tech mobile wallets.”
NFC goes hand in hand with RFID in terms of integration, meaning once devices are equipped with NFC on a large scale, we could see things like the ability to sign up for mobile loyalty programs, receiving mobile coupons, downloading video content and even going directly to a product’s landing page to read a plethora of information regarding that product- all by simply touching your cell phone to a poster or any consumer product equipped with RFID chips.
The report predicts a surge in NFC use within mobile social networking and communication as well, enabling things like touching your phone to a smart poster as you go into a restaurant to automatically update your Facebook status or check-in to mobile social networks such as Gowalla or Foursquare that are gaining huge popularity- the possibilities are virutally endless.
“No more rummaging around for the right change, card, keys or paperwork and no more texting your location to your friends — with NFC everything can be handled by your mobile device,” says Clark. “And, of course, NFC is a highly secure technology. Consumers will be able to instantly lock all the mobile wallet services on their phone if it is lost or stolen and then get them automatically transferred onto a new phone as soon as it arrives. They will also be able to use their phone to make payments even when the battery is flat.”
It’s a technology that holds much more potential than previous attempts similar to barcodes and bluetooth-based connectivity for mobile engagement. It depends on the rate of technology integration and how receptive consumers are to the concept, but either way, Near Field Communication is a buzz word you’ll be hearing for a long time.