Industry must put consumer first to enable NFC adoption, says iZettle MD

Firms need to ascertain what the new payment form offers consumers

Attitudes among those attempting to facilitate NFC-based payments need to change if the format is to gain mass adoption, according to iZettle’s UK MD, Stewart Roberts. Speaking at NFC Payments Europe in London, Roberts says that firms need to ascertain what the new payment form offers to consumers, rather how they can make money from them. He adds that it is wrong to assume that consumers will simply adopt NFC-based activities, let alone payments, and says that firms need to find the “killer app” to boost adoption, which is not necessarily payments-related.

I think we need to change our attitude to be honest,” he says. “The attitude of many people I’ve spoken to is to look at why they want to do it and not put the hat on you as the consumer and decide why you might want to do it. The thing that I never hear is what is the point of payments for the consumer that we want to address with NFC payments? It’s not asked by the industry; everybody talks about how they can make money out of data, how you can get offers to the consumers – do the consumers want it?”

Roberts’ comments are echoed by RIM’s financial services and mobile payments head EMEA, Almudena Maneiro, who adds that consumers need to become acquainted with NFC-based services on their smartphones first, such as peer-to-peer contact sharing. Maneiro’s comments come as RIM rival, Samsung, launches its range of NFC-enabled stickers, dubbed ‘TecTiles’, which users of its NFC-enabled smartphones including the Google Nexus and Samsung Galaxy S III, can programme to deliver commands to their smartphone. Initiatives such as TecTiles allow consumers to become more familiar with the concept of contactless technology, before moving on to more data-sensitive solutions such as payments.

NFC is expected by many to become the standard in mobile payments in the coming months, with the market tipped to experience strong growth. Juniper Research forecasts that more than one in four consumers in the US and Western Europe will pay for goods in-store using an NFC-enabled mobile device by 2017, while separate estimates from Berg Insight claim that 100 million NFC-enabled smartphones will be sold this year, more than three times the 30 million units sold in 2011.

However, some believe that the payments standard is more geared towards the firms employing it, rather than the consumers that will potentially use it. Square COO Keith Rabois said last year that NFC holds no value for consumers or businesses and is only useful for firms that want to track consumer behaviour, adding: “I’ve never met a single merchant in the US who says, I want NFC”. Nevertheless, analysts continue to up their NFC predications, with Juniper forecasting that NFC will power USD74 billion worth of transactions globally by 2015, making it one of the fastest growing segments of the mobile commerce market.

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