Bright mass market waiting ahead for NFC: NFC SOLUTIONS SUMMIT 2012
By insightVAS - Fri May 25, 4:54 pm
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Executives from MasterCard, Sony, Intel, and other leading companies took the stage yesterday at the Smart Card Alliance’s NFC Solutions Summit 2012 and they all agree: NFC is coming soon, and when it does, it will enable a broad array of applications that will enhance the consumer experience — at the point-of-sale (POS) and in everyday interactions.
The Summit, held by the Smart Card Alliance in partnership with the NFC Forum, took place this week through Thursday at the Hyatt Regency San Francisco Airport Hotel in Burlingame, California.
The journey to NFC is in the “middle stages” and NFC is “getting well along the way to mass market adoption,” James Anderson, group head and SVP, Mobile and Emerging Payments at MasterCard, told more than 400 Summit attendees during his keynote. MasterCard made its commitment to bring NFC to consumers because NFC has so much potential beyond payments, Anderson said, and that “payment can be an enabler to a rich ecosystem of services.”
According to Anderson, one of the ways to get consumers to use NFC technology is to put the technology “on the phones that people want to buy.” He named several new mobile devices that have been certified as “PayPass Ready,” a new mark that will identify to consumers that the handsets are capable of NFC payments. Anderson also talked about MasterCard’s decision to bridge together a remote wallet service with its contactless product with “PayPass Wallet Services,” saying that the “PC channel and POS channel are merging,” and it is a “big stake in the ground to call this whole new world of payments ‘PayPass.’”
At a press conference held during the Summit, Peter Ho, product manager for Wells Fargo Card Services and Consumer Lending, agreed with Anderson that payments will enable more NFC services. He said that “this is the best time to be in the payments business” because payments will lead to an “offer engine” for consumers and ultimately, there will be convergence of NFC into the identity space.
Mobile payment is important, but the availability of an array of innovative non-payment applications may be the key to wide consumer use of NFC, Koichi Tagawa, chair of the NFC Forum, and the general manager of Global Standards and Industry Relations Department at Sony, said in his keynote. Tagawa cited the example of Japan, which has used mobile payments phones for several years but doesn’t have the read/write (i.e., exchanging information with a smart poster or tag), or peer-to-peer (i.e., exchange data with another NFC device) capabilities that NFC offers. Though there are 70 million mobile payment-enabled devices in Japan, only 25 percent of the population utilizes the technology because of the lack of these non-payment applications, according to Tagawa.
Tagawa also said that ensuring a widespread consumer base for NFC technology will require “global interoperability of contactless specifications implemented into mobile devices.” He challenged the audience to use the NFC Forum’s open and global set of specifications to develop as many creative applications as possible for hospitality, retail, physical access, social media, gaming, workforce audits, and more.
Speaking on Intel’s recent efforts to enable NFC technology across its product lines, including its new tablets and Ultrabooks, Carlos Aguirre, Intel’s wireless marketing product line manager, favorably compared NFC to the more-difficult-to-pair Bluetooth technology. Aguirre said “NFC is dramatically easier” and that NFC “could be the de facto standard in the future for how wireless devices pair,” including keyboards, mice, speakers, televisions, stereo systems, cameras, and much more. It is this simplicity of use that is going to drive consumer demand for NFC-enabled devices. He said, “Users are going to start to demand the simplicity of getting exactly what they want, when they want it, without all of the additional steps and without all of the additional accessories.”
Aditya Khurjekar, mobile consultant, formerly of Verizon Wireless, urged the audience to look at NFC from the consumer point of view, and give them what they expect: new mobile experiences, and more advanced experiences as handset technology evolves. He encouraged the industry to get NFC on as many mobile devices as possible, especially in the “coolest phones,” and to “launch something already” so the consumers can experiment with the technology. You “can’t have a grand equation for how consumers will behave — they will tell us,” he said. Khurjekar also said not to worry about “black holes,” or limitations of mobile devices and operating systems, and that “a healthy ecosystem will find a way to work around black holes.” In closing, he told the audience that they’ve barely seen the wide-ranging benefits of NFC yet. “We’re just getting started,” he promised.
The Summit featured concurrent sessions on technology, hardware and applications, and business services. There was also a panel on NFC non-payments services.
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