By Anu Passary | Aug 15, 2012 10:52 AM EDT
Near-Field Technology or NFC is synonymous with mobile payments. The technology has great potential, which (despite being around since the early 2000's) it has been unable to capitalize on.
The NFC mobile payment system has been implemented for a while now; however, it currently lacks standardization and, therefore, most industries are yet to completely embrace it. NFC technology allows for over-the-air (OTA) or contactless payments to be made. Users simply need to tap or wave their phones at terminals, which are positioned near a cash register, to make payments.
Currently, Google Wallet employs this technology and Microsoft's services are intending to adopt it as well. Moreover, several android-powered devices like Google's Galaxy Nexus and Samsung's Galaxy S3 come with NFC capabilities. Apple too is expected to take the NFC route with its rumored iPhone 5.
According to research group Gartner Inc., NFC has a bright future and mobile payments are expected to top $600 million by 2016, bypassing the current $172 billion figure. However, apart from mobile payments NFC has several other yet-to-be-thoroughly-explored uses as well.
Marketing Makeovers Courtesy NFC
With NFC technology and marketing joining forces, consumers would be inundated with a wave of new strategies and marketing manoeuvres. Businesses would be able to place NFC tags at the store entrance, enabling users to check-in to social networking sites like Facebook immediately and share "Likes" or product preferences instantly. What's more, by simply waving a NFC-enabled phone over NFC-compatible advertisements, posters, flyers etc. users would be able to get all the details of the service or product.
Recently, in Belgium, a first-of-its-kind NFC-based system called Walibi Connect was rolled out. Walibi Amusement Park is the brains behind this system. Walibi Connect allows users to scan bracelets which are NFC-enabled, which in turn automatically sends updates and "Likes" of popular amusement park events and attractions to the users' Facebook page. Frequent users are rewarded with badges and other achievements, courtesy the NFC-tracked check-ins.
Redefined Retail Shopping
A Forrester report titled "NFC: What Lies Beyond Contactless Payments, suggests that NFC would also expand to the shopping retail space and redefine the shopping experience. In the near future, wireless coupons and loyalty cards may just become a way of life.
"NFC tags placed on product shelves will enable consumers to access more personalized information about products when scanning them with an app that integrates their personal profile; for example, if you're allergic to nuts, the product scan could automatically detect if the product contained nuts and alert you...Tap-for-information, tap-to-add-to-basket, tap-for-coupons, and other new usage scenarios will have an increasing impact on the retail industry," asserts the report, according to PC Advisor.
Unusual NFC-enabled devices are already creating a buzz. A "Digital Gumball Machine" from advertising firm Razorfish, which employs the NFC technology, is leading the way and giving one glimpses into how the technology can transform the industry. A gamut of digital goodies like song downloads, e-books, movies, and location-specific coupons are dispensed by the machine. All a user need to do is insert a few coins and tap the quirky machine with compatible NFC devices!
Samsung's Galaxy S3 and several other NFC-enable Android phones have already given us a sneak peek into the device-to-device sharing capabilities of NFC, thanks to the Android Beam feature. NFC can be used to beam files and other data back and forth to compatible devices that are near each other. The possibilities of this short-range functionality are innumerable and could be employed for sharing documents in a corporate environment.
Currently, Zynga Poker (virtual poker game for Android) uses the NFC-based Android Beam feature, which enables users to "bump" theirs smartphones or tablets and play live (multiplayer) online poker.
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