Add near-field communication, or NFC, to the list of great solutions that took a long time to catch on. Recent developments, however, have removed the major stumbling blocks for the mobile payments technology.
Analysts agree that mobile payments are a matter of when, not if. Millions of people will be using them in the next three years—and near-field communications (NFC) is looking like the technology that will make it happen on a large scale.
If you’ve been following NFC, you know that it’s been sitting on the sidelines, waiting to get into the mobile payments game for almost a decade. You may be thinking that this is just one more time one more person is saying that NFC is about to go make it to the big time. But I think this time is different. Really.
I just posted a blog on Inside BlackBerry for Business that explains the past, present and future of NFC. Read it here.
The executive summary is this. When you hold two NFC-enabled devices next to each other, they can exchange information, such as credit card or bank account details.
There have been six major obstacles that have been holding NFC—and mobile payments—back:
1. The secure element, and who controls it
2. A viable business model that works for everyone involved
3. Limited options for consumers
4. Security concerns about keeping bank and credit card information on a small device so easily lost or stolen
5. Merchant apathy about upgrading to a system that’s more expensive but not better
6. Lack of compelling reasons why to switch to a new payment method
That’s all about to change. Over the last year, several new developments have rendered every obstacle listed above obsolete. The wheels are in motion. BlackBerry is driving many of them.
What are these wheels? The BlackBerry-EnStream partnership is one of them. Host card emulation, an existing feature in BlackBerry OS and a new feature in Android 4.4 is another. Enterprising merchants are in the mix. The recent Target credit card breach has also played a role. It might be what you call a perfect storm.
At the same time, there are no guarantees that NFC will be the dominant technology for long. In the world of mobile technology, change happens fast. But NFC does look like it will take us to the next level—and within the next handful of years.
Read all about it—and join the conversation—here