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NFC and the big red payment herring

Posted by Darren Willsher on 22nd January 2013

Could MWC 2013 finally be the year for NFC?

This year’s MWC has a big focus on NFC, with attendees able to store tickets on their phones, access NFC zones and the GSMA have even rolled out NFC at locations across the city.

But news for NFC of late hasn’t been great, with the recent announcement from Paypal that the extended rollout of its mobile wallet will continue to ignore NFC and Apple leaving it out of its devices in 2012.

So what does the future hold for NFC?

One big area for NFC that has been talked up is using your mobile phone as a method of contactless payment, either in shops or on public transport. But this area is yet to take off and carries a lot of complications and companies vying for a cut – and that’s before you get into the issues with banks, mobile operators, chip companies and handset manufacturers all needing to agree on how it’ll work.

But ticketing, now there’s a sensible use case and one where NFC can really add some value.

I was at CARTES last year, a show all about ticketing and contactless tech, and was with Samsung who are pushing the CIPURSE open standard, something that means you could use your contactless card across the world. Now how useful would that be? Taking your Oyster card (for us London types) over to Barcelona for MWC and it just working. Or over to Singapore and being able to just hop on a bus and not worry about the right fare and all that jazz.

This could either be a dedicated transport card, embedded in your debit card or even offered in handsets. It could also store information on shops you visit regularly, so instead of trying to remember where you put your Cafe Nero card for that 10th free cup, it could just store this on the card and work automatically.

I’ll be watching NFC developments at MWC closely this year, will people still be trying to push payment as the killer app or will this year finally be the one where ticketing takes centre stage?

Darren Willsher

Darren has been with Wildfire for six years and is one of the driving forces behind the agency’s telecoms and networking portfolio, with experience working on a range of international, multi-channel accounts including CSR, Picochip (now Mindspeed), Real Wireless, The Small Cell Forum, Samsung and Allied Telesis.