If near field communications (NFC) were sentient it would feel as misunderstood as a 13 year old. Most Android smartphone users don’t think they use NFC, which they turn off on to save power because NFC is not associated with the typical smartphone functions and apps, when in fact many people have used other forms of NFC to open a hotel door or to gain access through a rapid transit turnstile.
Arguably NFC is a low-cost, secure, compact, low-power radio with read-only and writeable memory designed for contactless proximity applications of 5 cm or less. It is a fit for many use cases that could be categorized as consumer, non-scary uses like access, and rapid transit mentioned above. NFC is potentially a fit for mobile phone payments, but that will be a second step in the adoption of NFC.
It’s not scary to a consumer to be issued an NFC access card at work that is associated with his identity, and it is not scary for a consumer to use a stored value card that may include a unique or random reference to his identity.
What challenges the adoption of NFC is consumers’ suspicion of electronic payments in general. Some of the factors contributing to these challenges are:
But NFC payments could easily become adopted because of non-scary consumer applications of the technology are causing NFC readers to be deployed where NFC cards or keyfobs can be replaced with smartphones. This would be a two-step process that can be explained with two use cases.
Consumers need not worry about a lost smartphone because there are many demonstrated solutions to protecting personal information in general and banking and identity information specifically. For instance, Lookout offers a free version that lets the consumer remotely lock and wipe a lost mobilephone.
Convenience will bridge the gap between non-scary NFC applications and mobile banking. When this happens consumers will have little recognition that they are using NFC, except that they will be using it on smartphones instead of cards or keyfobs.