Sprint Commits to NFC, Mobile Payments Before 2012

Sprint is committing itself to introduce a Near Field Communications-based mobile payments platform or service before the close of 2011.

Eager to keep pace with competitors Verizon Wireless, AT&T Inc., and T-Mobile USA, Sprint is clearly watching as the mobile industry rapidly adopts NFC technology. According to Kevin McGinnis, vice president of product platforms, Sprint is presently working with payment networks and handset makers on NFC.

“We intend to make this an open solution where consumers can use their phone in a variety of physical locations,” said McGinnis. “Because we’re allowing other brands and other institutions to participate, they can also tell their consumers that this is available on Sprint.”

On Tuesday, McGinnis speculated to Bloomberg as to how Sprint’s mobile payment system might work. Rather than take a cut of each transaction, as Isis plans, McGinnis says that Sprint “could share in revenue from sales of coupons sent to its customers’ handsets or targeted advertising.” Users’ purchases would simply be tacked on to their regular credit-card statements.

Approximately 150,000 US merchant locations are enabled for NFC payments today. 6 million, on the other hand, accept traditional credit-card payments.

ABI Research estimates that the number of phones with NFC will double in 2012 (from 35 million shipped in 2011). In 2014, 340 million global mobile users will use mobile payments, Gartner Inc. speculates, with transactions totaling $245 billion (besting $32 billion last year).