NFC will be standard by 2015, says Google exec

Near-field communication technology (NFC), which is widely expected to bolster mobile payments adoption among consumers, will not be a consumer choice, but become “de facto” by 2015, according to Google’s senior industry manager for mobile, Nick Cumisky. Speaking at the eCommerce conference in London, Cumisky believes that the technology, which is increasingly synonymous with mobile commerce, will be integrated into smartphones and other mobile devices as standard over the next four years. He says that although the NFC retail infrastructure is becoming more robust, with services such as Google’s own Mobile Wallet launching earlier this year and carriers increasingly joining forces with payment companies, there is still “a gulf” between the these firms and consumers.

By 2016, 85% of point-of-sale terminals will be able to process mobile payments, while an estimated 1.5bn NFC-enabled devices will be shipped by 2015 as manufacturers, credit card companies and operators all enter the market, according to Cumisky. As the sector continues to attract huge backing, firms are increasingly clubbing together to form joint ventures, such as Isis, the mobile payments platform from AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon and the Global NFC Alliance between marketing firms Tapit, Blue Bite and Proxama. As developers explore the opportunities that NFC opens up, analysts have forecast that the market will treble in size to be worth USD670bn by 2015.

But with fears over fraud and security still named as the chief barrier to mass adoption, merchants and customers will need to be educated if NFC is ever to live up to market predictions, warns Cumisky. Brands will play an important role in this process, he claims, echoing other figures in the industry, including Tapit CEO Jamie Conyngham, who says that if a brand such as Coca Cola gets behind the technology, others will fall into line and this will eventually become influential to the public.

Although most analysts agree that mass adoption is a number of years away, customers are already starting to take the bait. Cumisky cites that the fact that some 14m digital QR codes have already been scanned this year to redeem vouchers and offers, including codes on posters and on TV screens, indicate that there is a “willingness” among consumers that bodes well for NFC firms. Meanwhile, ever-increasing smartphone ownership means that customers are growing more familiar with making payments through their phones, via online stores such as the Google’s Android Marketplace, as well as in-app purchases.

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