How “Near” are we to NFC Payments Taking Off?

POSTED BY Global Administrator
The news last week that Apple will not equip the iPhone 4GS with NFC was a disappointment to some as take-up by iPhone users would have been a great stimulus for the market.  Despite the number of “other” smartphones announced with NFC (and that appears to be an increasing number by the week) the iPhone 4GS would have provided just what the market needs at the moment – a big push to get it rolling. Nevertheless it’s definitely not putting off others either from the Mobile or Payments side – in fact there were some also some very positive, pro-active NFC announcements last week with a tone that I haven’t heard before – “we’re going to do it anyway”. First, Orange’s VP of Strategy and Business development, Daniel Gurrola, was quoted as saying “even though the technology may take time to gain mass adoption, it is a worthwhile investment … NFC is not a product, it is an ecosystem and the ecosystem is ready” and announced commercial rollouts in France and the UK. Then there was a similar tone when Visa Europe confirmed it was in talks with UK operators to launch an NFC-enabled mobile phone with Samsung as the [London] “Olympics Phone” – at the end of the article it was reported that “If UK operators decline to support the Visa Europe solution, the financial service firm is planning to implement the scheme using a microSD-card based alternative”.  So Visa is also going to do it anyway. There’s a lot riding on the London Olympics and if you think about it, it’s a great opportunity to demonstrate and use NFC for all sorts of applications – advertising, payments, ticketing and access management.  Maybe the London Olympics can do what Apple hasn’t done this time - and of course by the time we get to July next year perhaps we shall also find iPhone 5 (with NFC) owners there anyway!