NFC M-Commerce to Take Toll

Marina Astapchik
IT Trends Research Specialist
July 27, 2011

There are places in the US, Europe, and Asia where you can pay your purchases at supermarkets, cafes and restaurants without having to pull your wallet and credit cards out of your pocket. You can do it using only your mobile phone.

A couple of retailer networks in Britain, US, Sweden, Japan and Russia have introduced at their supermarkets the new NFC (near-field communications) based payment systems. To make payments, their customers only need to put a mobile phone or smartphone to the “smart poster” field with the NFC tag on it and this it done.

Not all smartphones can do that, actually. To make NFC work you will need a smartphone which supports the Quick Tap technology and has a NFC chip in it. The m-payment service will also have to be enabled with one of the mobile operators that offer this service and a bank at which you have an open account.

ABI researches forecast that by 2015 the total revenue from mobile commerce will amount to 163 billion, while the share of mobile payments will increase to 12 per cent of all electronic commerce proceeds.

While people in a number of countries still pay in cash, and think of credit cards as a high-end technology, it has been a year since the citizens of a small town of Visby, which is in Sweden, pay their purchase and bills with mobile and smart phones, PayEx being their primary mobile payment system.

So, how exactly it works? NFC processes contactless payments between the initiator and the NFC tag in the short distance, typically four centimeters or less. The salesperson types the amount into cash register. The register connects to the server through a secure payment authentication system. The system sends a notification to the mobile phone with a request to confirm the payment. For successful completion of the payment it is enough to press OK button if the amount does not exceed a couple of euros. If it does, PIN code has to be provided. The PayEx payments are supported by all mobile phones (and credit cards) having NFC in them.

In the nearest future, all mobile and smartphones will introduce the NFC chip in them, including iPhones, BlackBerry as well as Android, Symbian, and Windows Phone. According to the Forrester, by the end of 2011 50 million smartphones with NFC-chips and apps will be issued in the United States.

World’s technology giants like Google, Cisco, and Apple have recently presented their own developments as regards contactless payments solutions. With respect to Google these are chips working with Symbian and Android OS. To deliver this service, Google partnered with Sprint Nextel mobile service provider promising its subscribers to be able to use NFC to shop and take advantage of automatic discounts. So far there are only 2 devices in US that support NFC Nexus S and Nokia C7, and specifically with Android there is only the first one.

Testing is about to launch in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington and will last four months. Retailers who intend to participate in the program have to install POS VeriFone Systems with the NFC support. The Google’s offer goes beyond the other current offerings. Its difference is that it supports special plans for discounts and coupon systems. Google representatives claim, that shoppers will not any longer have to remember all the information as regards his or her discount coupons, redeem points and so on, as all this data will be stored in one NFC chip.

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