2013 Could Be the Year of Mobile NFC

Pablo Valerio, International Business & IT Consultant | 3/26/2013 | 27 comments

Pablo Valerio
If you visited the recent Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, you couldn't have missed the "NFC Experience."

Attendees were invited to use NFC-enabled phones as their entry badge, pay for food and drinks, get information across several NFC tags on posters, exchange contact information, etc. The city of Barcelona was made NFC-aware, with many information "tags" across the most important venues, and several thousand stores and restaurants were equipped with contactless handsets to handle mobile payments.

NFC has existed for more than 10 years, as an evolution of RFID technology. Billions of NFC-enabled cards and millions of readers are in use today, mostly for payment cards, transportation, and secure access. Despite this, we're only really starting to scratch the surface of NFC deployment and use, especially with consumers who sometimes don't even know they're using it with devices like subway fare cards. The developers at MWC would like consumers and enterprises to see some of the major advantages of NFC.

One of those advantages is speed. In comparison with Bluetooth or other protocols, the connection between two NFC devices is automatically established quickly (in less than a tenth of a second). The only requirement is proximity between devices.

The other big advantage is security. Contactless technology found on today's credit cards uses the same encryption and security found on the Chip+PIN payment cards popular in Europe. The security is so strong that credit card providers VISA and MasterCard allow NFC "wallets" such as Google Wallet to be considered as "Card Present" instead of the typical "online" transaction, lowering fees and security cost.

I had a conversation with Pedro Martínez, European business developing manager of the business unit identification of NXP. He was very excited about where NFC was headed:

2012 was a successful year for NFC, with more than 100m devices [in use]. For 2013, [the] latest analyst reports predicted approximately 280m units, and we also believe that the success story of NFC will continue, as we have encouraging signs and encouraging order levels from a number of different customers…NFC has become a standard feature in 2012, and this will be reflected in NFC shipments.

Right now, Martinez points out, the growth of NFC is mostly hardware-driven but to reach the consumer, things will have to change. "2012 was the year of OEMs, now we are entering the year of applications," Martinez said, "[This year] we will see many mobile wallet rollouts, mainly driven by MNOs... application developers and service providers will leverage this to bring NFC applications to markets."

The growth of consumer applications and digital wallets will hopefully allow retailers and financial services companies to make better use of the security and speed advantages of NFC. Better and safer credentials aren't the only advantages. As you can see from my personal experiences at MWC, there are lots of advantages to the way service can be conducted with NFC.

Thanks to the strong encryption in NFC devices, it is possible to use the NFC-enabled phones as security badges. There is real advantage to using a connected device as opposed to a small card or badge. At the Mobile World Congress, I was able to get access to the conference with a secure badge in my phone. I had to upload a picture and certify my badge with my ID when I received my credentials. Once that was done, I was able to use special express security lanes, and I was able to enjoy the show without juggling more badges or payment cards. I was able to use the device most business leaders use the most to manage all the transactions from ID to purchases in a single item.

With NFC use skyrocketing, it is time for CIOs to take a closer look. OEMs are on board and consumers are walking around with devices that have capabilities they may not even be fully aware of. It represents a great opportunity to tap into a secure, fast, new way of serving them before someone else does.

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Pablo Valerio   2013 Could Be the Year of Mobile NFC   3/28/2013 8:03:04 AM
Re: Convenient.
@Taimoor, NFC has existed for more than ten years, as an evolution of RFID technology. Co-Invented by Philips and SONY in 2002, they established two years later with Nokia the NFC Forum. Later Philips' NFC division "NXP" spun off from the company and became NXP Semiconductors (NASDAQ:NXPI), the largest seller of NFC Chipsets in the World. Billions of NFC enabled cards and millions of readers are in use today, mostly for payment cards, transportation and secure access; most of those cards are based on the MIFARE specification developed by NXP and licensed to several vendors.

SONY also developed their own version, called Felica, mostly used in Japan, where they already have smartphones that can store most NFC cards and use one device for credit cards, transportation, etc. So, at least over there, the system is already in use.
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Susan Nunziata   2013 Could Be the Year of Mobile NFC   3/27/2013 9:19:59 PM
Re: Convenient.
@Taimoor: Having lost both a smartphone and a wallet, i will tell you it was much more difficult and in some cases impossible to replace the belongings of my wallet (driver license, credit cards, family photos) than it was to replace the phone and data (which was backed up in the cloud).
Taimoor Zubair   2013 Could Be the Year of Mobile NFC   3/27/2013 6:38:09 PM
Convenient.
I think it makes everything so convenient. 
Losing a mobile phone looks like a problem but then I don't think it gets worse as there is sufficient back-up for all the data anyway
Must say I am looking forward to a large-scale implementaion and usage of this technology..
tekedge   2013 Could Be the Year of Mobile NFC   3/27/2013 1:10:41 PM
2013 Year of Mobile NFC
Yeah I am waiting fo the day when my smartphone helps me not carry my id badges everywhere..So many possibilities...
Pablo Valerio   2013 Could Be the Year of Mobile NFC   3/27/2013 8:16:23 AM
Re: beaming data
@Zaius, not so long ago PDAs had infrared beaming functions to share contact data. I had several Palm devices (Palm III, Palm V and Sony Clie) and was fun to beam your business card.

Now you can send your business card by SMS, email or Bluetooth. Android Beam and NFC are just new options.
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David Wagner   2013 Could Be the Year of Mobile NFC   3/27/2013 1:16:22 AM
Re: Medical Records
@Zaius- The lost phone situation is going to be solved by not storing really data on the phone. We'll just keep encrypted codes that lead to data in the cloud. It will still be annoying but you'll have a physical backup.

Losing a phone is already bad. It won't get much worse.
David Wagner   2013 Could Be the Year of Mobile NFC   3/27/2013 1:15:13 AM
Re: NFC samtphones
@Zaius- This is where Google+ with its circles really comes in handy. You can accept everyone and then put the people you aren't pleased accpeting in an outer circle.
Zaius   2013 Could Be the Year of Mobile NFC   3/26/2013 11:43:21 PM
Re: Medical Records
The possibilty is endless. However, people  kind of lose their phones often. So, I believe having it somewhere else might be better.
Zaius   2013 Could Be the Year of Mobile NFC   3/26/2013 10:16:08 PM
Re: NFC samtphones
Yes, what would be a polite way to say "No", when soemone extends the his/her smartphone and asks for a touch ?



I believe, in official environment, people will not brandish their phones looking for a tap.
Sara Peters   2013 Could Be the Year of Mobile NFC   3/26/2013 6:00:57 PM
Re: NFC samtphones
@Dave  Hmm... if you could become friends on facebook with someone just by touching phones that would make it much harder for me to ignore friend requests from people that I don't really want to be friends with... Not sure if I like that idea.
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