Hot topics from MWC 2012: NFC mobile wallets and Facebook mobile payments

On the horizon

NFC is rapidly becoming a standard feature in smartphones, with manufacturers including Samsung, Nokia and Acer all unveiling devices that support NFC, and Apple rumoured to be following suit with the next iPhone. Everyone from O2 to Barclaycard to Google wants mobile payments to take off as firms seek to replace credit cards and cash with mobile phones. As NFC technology continues to gain ground, it appears that security concerns will remain the chief challenge in the adoption of mobile payments, rather than the availability of the service. For now mobile payments are the most immediate use of the technology, as highlighted by partnerships between Visa and both Vodafone and Intel, which were announced at MWC. But the NFC Cafe at the event also demonstrated opportunities beyond payments in services including navigation and location-based recommendations.

Facebook admits that mobile is a hole in its strategy, despite around half of its users accessing the site through phones or tablets. In the run-up to its IPO, the firm is attempting to fix this, announcing a raft of carrier partnerships to make mobile web payments easier at MWC, among other measures. This, plus its partnership with Bango announced earlier in the year, suggests that Facebook is laying the groundwork for seamless micropayments through its mobile properties – making it much easier for media-hungry users to pay for content on their phones. Such a move would be well-timed, chiming not only with Facebook’s much-anticipated stock market debut, but a growing interest from all players in the mobile payments space.

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