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NFC for payments – time to ditch your wallet

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It’s becoming increasingly more possible in the U.S. to use Near Field Communication (NFC) technology to make payments from your smartphone. NFC is one of the most popular and secure technologies for conducting mobile payment transactions. Over the past year we’ve seen banks, shops, and mobile operators all implementing NFC-friendly services in anticipation of the mobile wallet revolution, to the extent that major retailers like CVS and McDonald’s have invested heavily in upgrading their payment systems to accept NFC payments.

By now you can easily find smartphones equipped with NFC at all of the large mobile network stores (Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, etc). In fact, most smart phones sold in the U.S. currently come equipped to make NFC payments. If you’re curious which phones currently have built-in NFC capability, NFC World Magazine keeps a very handy running list. Most new Android smartphones now contain NFC technology and there are several trusted apps available for turning your phone into a wallet.

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Earlier this year we ran a ‘contactless challenge’ between two bloggers in two different cities in the U.S. to test exactly how easy it is to make mobile payments with a smartphone. The results from bloggers Kathy Dalton of Salt Lake City, UT and Josh Kerr of Austin, TX were overwhelmingly positive, with both bloggers finding it quick and easy to do wherever the service was available.

Lack of contactless terminals has been holding back the wider adoption of NFC payments, but this is changing. Both the ongoing rollout of EMV terminals and the recent nationwide launch of the Isis mobile wallet are adding momentum to the NFC payment movement.

Mobile NFC payments aren’t limited to smartphones.  Contactless credit cards are also becoming more popular, which are based on the same technology. Contactless card programs are being rolled out by all of the major card brands: American Express (ExpressPay), MasterCard (MasterCard PayPass), and Visa (payWave).  The big advantage of contactless cards comes from quick transactions; paying with contactless is so much quicker than using a traditional card.

 By issuing secure contactless payment devices, financial service providers are not only equipping consumers with a more convenient payment mechanism, they are rapidly speeding up payment experiences at the checkout counter. Top retailers who are accepting contactless payments at all of their store locations in the United States include: 7-Eleven, CVS/pharmacy, Jack in the Box, McDonald’s, Meijer Stores, Regal (Theaters) Entertainment Group, and Ritz Camera… so there really is no excuse to ignore the future.

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