4 industry experts at GSMA summit say, NFC will win!

If you have been following NFC developments closely, you must have noticed that there were some interesting announcements around NFC, last week. Most of these announcements came from companies participating in GSMA’s NFC & Mobile Money Summit, New York. In case you have missed them, the team of Lets Talk Payments would like to summarize 4 such announcements involving NFC.

1. Charles Weir says NFC for payments are not dead yet - Charles Weir, founder and technical director of development house Penrillian said that NFC technology would gain traction in the next 2 years. Speaking on Apple’s iPhone 5s and 5c launch not including NFC technology he said Apple’s lack of development in the area is just a red herring. According to him, Apple likes to take a cautious approach. The growth of NFC would depend on mostly two companies i.e. Visa and MasterCard. Both the companies are sure that they would like to see NFC in use where ever cards are accepted. He concluded by saying It’s going to come, and once it has come, once it has gotten to the point where the majority of outlets – more than 60% - have NFC terminals, then I personally will be very surprised if Apple does not support it.

2. China Mobile says NFC must become default function on mobile phones – Liu Xin, deputy general Manager in China Mobile’s department of data services, at the summit pointed out at some of the reasons for slow NFC adoption. He points out at lack of mass market NFC handsets, complex SIM card upgrades and insufficient experience among users in China has resulted in the slow adoption rate of mobile payments in China. He says that the option of NFC should be an inbuilt one in a regular phone just like how Wifi and GPS are enabled. Some of the alternatives suggested by Liu Xin which could help in growth of NFC include uniform test requirements for handsets, more choice of NFC based models for users to choose from, simplify the process of upgrading to NFC SIM cards, etc.

3. Mobile operator Orange spoke about growth of NFC deployments in Europe - Thierry Millet, VP of Payments and Contactless at Orange highlighted Orange’s partnership with around 20 banks in Europe. He also stated that over one million NFC based POS terminals were live in Europe. He further said there are around 132,000 POS terminals live in Poland, 280,000 in UK and 255,000 in Spain.

4. GSMA says NFC is finally starting to achieve scale and commercial success – Anne Bouverot, director-general of the GSMA spoke about how mobile NFC is providing a critical link between our digital life on our smartphone and the connected world around us. She states that mobile NFC has become a primary tool to carry our wallet, identity, keys, music, books, photos, tickets, loyalty cards, mail, itinerary and much more. She also touched upon the demand for NFC technology. She says More than 70 million NFC SIM cards have been shipped to operators as of the middle of 2013. Shipments in 2012 grew 87 per cent from the previous year. While Japan, Korea, and Western Europe have dominated SIM shipments to date, North America is gearing up.

So should we believe NFC will win? Well not really. The debate continues...