NFC marketing firms team up to boost adoption

Three of the largest near-field communications marketing firms are joining forces to forge the NFC World Alliance in a bid to raise awareness about the technology and speed up adoption among both brands and consumers. Tapit will oversee Asia-Pacific markets, while Blue Bite takes control of the Americas and Proxama represents Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The partnership adds weight to predictions that it will be brands that lead wary consumers towards mass NFC adoption with the bait of offers and deals, rather than payment firms and manufacturers. Although momentum is growing behind NFC, analysts have warned that consumers will be slower to adopt the technology and it could take up to four years until it becomes mainstream.

The Alliance is hoping to become a one-stop shop for NFC marketing, providing brands looking to expand their international ad footprint with access to media buyers around the world. The firms are also considering releasing research papers on the reception of campaigns in different regions in the future as the young market develops. “Our aim is to get so many companies on our books that it is very hard for second and third movers to follow us,” Tapit investor David Cunningham tells PC World.

NFC uses wireless technology to send signals over short distances and, although it has been used for a number of years, for example in the London Underground’s Oyster service, it is becoming increasingly synonymous with mobile payments and mobile advertising. NFC is also opening up new ways to target consumers with offers and ads, using tag reading technology that makes it possible for users to tap posters and stickers to receive information or coupons.

The Alliance is planning to roll out between 30,000 and 40,000 NFC tags worldwide by the end of 2011 in a bid to galvanise the push into NFC marketing, with aims to hit half a million next year and 1.5m by the end of 2013, says Cunningham. He suggests that a high-profile mobile device, such as Apple’s iPhone, would have the leverage to accelerate consumer uptake of NFC. Apple is, however, reportedly holding back on making its next-generation NFC-enabled, saying that it will wait until an industry standard is established.

Consumers remain unconvinced over NFC and mobile payments, citing fears over security and sharing personal data, with only 13% of UK adults currently willing to make mobile transactions. Analysts are increasingly suggesting that brands will power a shift in attitude over the next few years. Despite this mistrust, the technology is already spearheading growth in the mobile payments industry, allowing consumers to make digital transactions by tapping their device on a payment reader in shops and restaurants, and is expected to generate USD50bn worth of payments by 2014.

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