Blog Post: Should We Take #NFC Payments Seriously?

Keeping the tradition to post some of the best news coming from Mobile World Congress, Samsung and Visa announced a partnership to bring mobile payment software on all new NFC-enabled phones made by the manufacturer. Something tells me a certain announcement coming soon should include this item.

On the surface, it’s great. Good for Visa to get out in front of the pack. Their attempt to standardize software for mobile payments could be what the market needs to hep bring mobile payments to the masses.

That is, unfortunately, a little overly-optimistic at this point.

The big chains will most likely adopt this new technology much sooner (if they haven’t already), but with the advent of Amazon those stores are starting to die. Smaller retail chains will be the decider.

Where I see the most value are the transactions we all make, such as purchasing gas. Of course, there is very little difference in opening my phone and waving it in front of the pump from pulling my credit card out and swiping it. Market research even shows US customers still prefer plastic at this point.

This isn’t a situation where the market needs to be told what they want, although technology companies will argue the other way. This is our money we are talking about here. I know people who still write out checks when they go the grocery store. Even more of them work in cash alone. You’re telling me adding this software to our phones will increase m-commerce adoption?

Instead, credit card processors like Europay, MasterCard and Visa are developing more secure cards with chips installed (the technology is loving being referred to as EMV as a result). It is more secure than just magnetic stripes and can also potentially be used for mobile payments. 

In addition, AT&T is testing out APIs that will allow your phone number to be used as an additional method of identification. Retailers are comfortable with Big Telco, so it might make sense to have mobile payments be associated with our monthly bill as well.

All of these options are viable, and could happen in the coming years. I am not saying the idea of my phone as my wallet is a bad one. Makes one less thing to have to grab on my way out the door, and I take much better care of my phone.

What I am saying is be careful when you read a story about how NFC is going to change the world. The security around NFC chips is still evolving, the software is lagging, and retailers still have to be willing to pay for upgrades to their payment processing infrastructure. 

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