NFC Technology – Pay or Play?

Last updated: 20 March 2014

One of the conference headers to catch my eye in this weekend’s SXSW schedule includes the phrase ‘NFC Growth from Play will Pay’. Seeing as Saturday at SXSW is ecommerce focused, I thought I’d take a look at how NFC is viewed outside of the direct payments market.

So what are the possibilities beyond payment as we know it – or think we know it – for NFC technology? The blurb in the SXSW schedule states that ‘NFC will ignite billions of dollars of incremental revenue from user data, marketing services and new mobile powered products’ – so let’s take a look.

NFC payments are well underway in transport systems across the globe. London faces the eyes of the world as it hosts the Olympic Games this year, meaning NFC payment will have a major part to play in directing the flow of millions through the tube network. Reportedly, stadium entry tickets and Oyster transport cards were due to be linked during The Games to minimise processing times. By linking the data that people readily provide to catch a glimpse of The Games; Transport for London’s marketing department has the potential to reach people outside of London on a global scale.

Proximity marketing is providing a new way of interacting with the environment around us. NFC readers on marketing material has provided innovative media agencies, advertisers and retailers with a way of instantly delivering brand experiences to the general public. Time will tell if the novelty will last, but with NFC, posters are starting to become significantly more interactive.

Earlier in the year Intel announced NFC support in its Ivy Bridge chips. So called ‘ultrabooks’ could change ecommerce as we know it by encouraging people to use NFC tokens to pay for online goods. In the interest of strong authentication, this could be required every time you open a secure laptop.

Finally, one of questions on the mind of developers for the past year has been the expansion of NFC games. Whilst this isn’t likely to take off in mainstream circles for another few years – we are now seeing it appear in phones. Check out the video below to see what Nokia has at its fingertips.

Whilst payments may be the most likely format to fuel wider NFC adoption, there are plenty of indirect economic effects that the ‘popular’ arrival of NFC will bolster. As they say in Texas – ‘it’s only temporary, unless it works’.


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