EDITORIAL: To reiterate – NFC is not dead!

NFC_gravestoneContactless Intelligence Weekly News Review Editorial – Week 05 2014: 

I spent some time at the Omnicard conference in Berlin this week. Settling in at the Wednesday morning NFC sessions, I was looking forward to hearing some salient facts about DACH-region projects and non-hype related movement in this field – specifically as it pertained to identification, verification and payment. I knew that there was a settling of reality that was blanketing the over-worked hype machine but I was surprised when the the question on everyone’s lips at the conference was, “Is NFC dead?”

Now, don’t get me wrong – there are many parties to blame for overselling the technology’s arrival on the scene and it would be fair to say that the sudden NFC take-up in all its forms never actually happened. Nor is it likely to. But to announce the demise of the technology and talk as though it was a huge mistake – at everyone’s expense – seems a tad premature. I would like to think that this was simply a method to get attendees excited and involved but it quickly became apparent that many of the speakers were simply going through the motions. The sense of excitement that had existed in previous years was missing. Not by all the speakers, granted, but by many.

The frustrating thing was that there was no reference to BLE (along with iBeacons) or to HCE, unless prompted, and the answer to the question “What plans does your company have concerning this technology?” was “We don’t know”. What has happened to the industry? Will this malaise continue – or is it just German-centric pessimism? I hope not, because this point of view has a habit of  becoming a self fulfilling prophecy.

The Irish, on the other hand, are going for broke in their use of NFC technology. Allied Irish Bank IB is promoting its new Me2U money transfer service on the biggest NFC enabled OOH (Out Of Home) campaign to date, in Ireland. The NFC element of the campaign consists of 500 Adshel 6 Sheets, 10 fully wrapped bus shelters and 55 six sheets located in cinema lobbies across the country. There’s a video that accompanies this huge campaign and you can see it here. Go Irish!

Mobile payments are still attracting attention and moving slowly, but surely, towards mass acceptance. Visa Europe last week announced that 62 mobile contactless projects are now live or planned to launch across Europe. The company says it is “firmly on track to realise its prediction that 50% of Visa transactions will made be made through a mobile device by 2020”. Visa Europe’s CEO Nicolas Huss, when asked what Visa Europe next focus would be, answered: “…to move in pace with the rapid adoption of new technologies and, more particularly, the growth of mobile and digital commerce”.  Worldpay also released a report on the mobile payment market last week saying that, “E-wallets will equal cards as the most popular payment method globally, with each predicted to have a 41% share of the overall payments market. In 2012, $295 billion was processed through e-wallet payments. This is set to rise to $1,656 billion by 2017. The value of mobile transactions will increase to $117 billion by 2017, from $18 billion in 2012.” Perhaps the idea of mobile payment isn’t quite as dead as everyone would like to think.

And in a funny burst of synchronism – two similar stories came out last week, both talking about the same thing – namely the purchase of cars using mobile payments. Or rather the use of mobile payments to make your car payments. A story out from Barclays and Toyota on their payment opportunity using the banks Pingit application and the news that Billingtree in the States has released a suite of new solutions that allow auto finance companies to expand mobile payment options to consumers.

Toyota Financial Services provides a range of finance options for new cars and Light Commercial Vehicles as well as all Toyota Approved Used vehicles. They are the first UK car manufacturer to sign up to Pingit, where it will be used in their financial services arm to offer customers a mobile payment option via Barclays Pingit. BillingTree’s mobile payment and lifecycle management solution enables customers to view and pay their bills by scanning a QR code from their smart phone and instantly access their account information and payment options. Lifecycle communications features allow auto lenders to automatically identify and execute up-sell, cross-sell and promotional marketing opportunities to online and mobile customers based on their buying behaviour.  Both solutions are supported by BillingTree’s partnership with ZNAP™, a mobile payment and business automation platform provider.

And for those of you who spoke to me about my last editorial covering Apple and their mobile payment plans (you know who you are) – here is a piece from the Wall Street Journal online that came out last Friday covering meetings that Eddy Cue, Apple’s iTunes and App Store chief has had with industry executives to discuss Apple’s interest in handling payments for physical goods and services on its devices (according to people familiar with the situation). Could we be seeing more movement for Apple in the mobile payment sector soon?

So there you have it for last week. Despite a fairly pessimistic approach in Germany, there is also upbeat news from Ireland, and support (no surprise) for mobile payments from Visa Europe. Oh, and if the financial service divisions of car manufacturers get their act together – we could all be making our monthly car payments via our mobiles!

Finally, a big thank you and show of support for three more sponsors of the Contactless Intelligence Spring Conference and the Contactless & Mobile Awards. Infineon, NXP and Samsung are now supporting the event, with Samsung also sponsoring the CMA category ‘Eco-system’. We have a number of entries into this category and look forward to seeing Samsung present the award to one of the luck winners on stage on the 29th April. The nominations are now closed (unless Karen says otherwise!) and so begins the chore of getting your paperwork filled out and sent over for the judges. Best of luck to all involved!

Steve Atkins
Contactless Intelligence

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2 Comments on “EDITORIAL: To reiterate – NFC is not dead!”

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