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NFC is here, and the future is bright

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When it comes to NFC, it seems like we’re always talking about the future, but in reality, the future is already here. Most handset manufacturers have released or announced mobile devices containing NFC technology, and we saw just a few weeks ago that Visa attempted to make the 2012 London Olympics cashless with NFC. There are also mobile wallets in the mix, too, which Juniper notes in its report, like Isis (headed up by Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile) and Google Wallet (which is supported on many Sprint Android mobile devices). All of this is a huge leap forward from where we were even a year ago.

This is only the beginning. Mobile payments will rise to more than 1.3 trillion dollars by 2017, and NFC will play a major role in this boost, according to a new report from Juniper Research. The growth will be largely accredited to ‘purchases of physical goods using NFC’ and ‘remote payments’ – these transactions will account for 54 percent of the total value of mobile payments.

To further drive NFC adoption, Juniper sees investments in secured NFC elements (secure element or SE) and trusted service manager (TSM) infrastructure as good moves, as they will help with meeting regulatory requirements and promoting the interoperability of NFC applications and services.

Consumers still need more education, though. The author of the report, Dr. Windsor Holden, says: “While we are now seeing significant deployments of contactless infrastructure, consumer awareness is extremely low. Thus, it is imperative for all members of the NFC value chain to engage with the public to heighten its profile as a simple, intuitive payment mechanism.”

I recently saw the GSMA say the very same thing. Reed Peterson, vice-president and head of near field communication at the GSMA, said in a Mobile Magazine article, “Future success will also be determined on the mobile industry working with other sectors, for example, retail and banking, to address issues such as consistent connections to NFC technology and educating consumers about the robust security provided through NFC and over the air mobile payments.”

Let’s take this advice to heart. While NFC is here, and the future is bright, all of the NFC stakeholders need to continue to work together on consumer education and interoperability to make NFC an important part of a consumer’s everyday life.

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