Saturday, March 8, 2008

Mobile Payments -NFC Trials steaming ahead

I posted an item at the start of the year explaining the rise of the 'mobile wallet' and stumbled across a related piece this week where the Financial Times explain NFC technology and its rollout.

According to research they quote from ABI Research, 30% of the mobile phones in the world will be NFC-enabled by 2011 (down from a rosier prediction made originaly in 2004 of 50% by 2009).

The point about the lack of hardware infrastructure to support faster NFC rollout made by the FT is a valid one -once again, too many standards existing across the globe with inherent vested interest in retaining one above the others.

Equally valid, is the discussion of how mobile operators are simply unprepared to relinquish the lion's share of the transaction fees from mobile payment transactions to financial institutions -something which has the potential to significantly delay any mass-market launch anwhere in the world.

Nontheless, o2 has been undertaking a 6-month project with Transport for London, Barclaycard and other partners to trial cashless payments amongst 500 selected customers. A smaller portion of the sample was also given the opportunity to make payments of up to €15 at a range of outlets.The trial is due to end in May and could give useful insights into take-up of the technology.

The article wraps up by predicting that in the future, the mobile phone will replace swipecards for accessing offices and hotel rooms, as well as paper tickets at concert venues.

Certainly based on some of the innovation that Japanese operators showcased at the Mobile World Congress, the idea of NFC handsets for accessing buildings is probably more imminent
than we think (according to NTT DoCoMo around 100,000 of their Tokyo subscribers open the door to their home with their handset).

If only operators and Banks would end their squabbling over revenue sharing, an acceleration of the use of NFC-enabled phones for mobile payments could be just round the corner...

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