Yesterday was the first day of the NFC Solutions Summit 2012 in San Francisco, and we heard from executives at MasterCard, Sony, and Intel about their plans for NFC. One of the questions everyone was trying to answer is: “how will we get consumers to use it?” A great question, because as we all know, technology isn’t successful unless it’s used, and used often.
According to James Anderson of MasterCard, one of the ways to gain consumer popularity is to put NFC on the best handsets consumers can buy. He said consumers don’t want the “good” phones, they want the “great” phones, and putting NFC on the “great” phones will help tremendously. He named several new handsets that are now certified as “PayPass Ready,” (i.e. have the capability to make mobile payments with MasterCard’s contactless PayPass technology) and the good news is that many of these handsets are indeed “great”.
Koichi Tagawa of Sony also had some thoughts on what would drive consumer acceptance. He said that while mobile payments will be important, the availability of many non-payments applications will be the key to getting broad consumer use. He used the example of Japan, which has had mobile payments for many years, but a lack of open standards keeps the availability of non-payments applications low. As a result, only 25 percent of the population uses the technology. This number would be higher if there were more applications, Tagawa said, in areas like hospitality, retail, and gaming. For the United States, now is the time, he said, to create as many innovative applications as possible using the open and global standards available to ensure consumers use NFC technology.
Intel, on the other hand, thinks consumers are going to love NFC because of its simplicity. Intel’s Carlos Aguirre spoke of trying to pair devices with Bluetooth. Not the easiest, right? NFC pairs with other devices very easily when you hold the devices together. The NFC device asks, “Do you want to pair this device?” You say yes, and you are done. Aguirre thinks this simplicity will be the key for consumer demand, and for NFC to become the standard technology for pairing devices.
So what is the answer? Probably all of the above. Give consumers secure and easy to use technology, lots of ways to use it, and the most advanced handsets. This is a great combination to entice consumers to get on board with NFC.