Unless you’ve been living in a tech-free bubble, you’ve probably heard rumblings about near field communication (NFC). This technology is hoping to completely change the way consumers pay for goods at both major retailers and small Mom and Pop shops.
If you’re a business owner looking to upgrade, or just a tech savvy consumer, don’t be left in the dark about how this technology can change your day to day transactions.
NFC is a way for two devices to send and receive data from about four inches apart. This means that you the consumer can pay for goods and services by simply swiping your smartphone. With NFC, there’s no more toting a wallet full of credit cards or a wad of cash.
Though this technology has been around since 2003, it’s only really risen to the forefront in the last year. As with any new technology, it suffered some fits and starts. According to an article in PCMag.com, trials conducted between Citibank, Cingular Wireless and the New York City subway, as well as a trial between Nokia and San Francisco’s BART system went nowhere. NFC has been hard to get off the ground because it requires competing wireless carriers and banks to come together. Another issue is that not many phones currently have an NFC chip.
But that’s all about to change.
Not only are more smartphones being armed with NFC chips, but several wireless companies have recently paired with banks to develop NFC apps. AT&T and Verizon wireless have teamed with Discover Financial Services to develop ISIS. Rumor has it Apple, always at the forefront, is developing its own NFC technology that would link the phone’s credit card information back to the users iTunes account.
Google has also jumped into the game. According to an article in Bloomberg Businessweek, the company ran a trial in Portland, Ore. called Hotpot. Kits were handed out to local businesses with window decals that used near field communication technology. Any customer with a smartphone that contained an NFC chip, including Google Android users, could scan the decal with their phone and get information on the business, like reviews and operating hours.
So far so good. Sarah Heise of Voodoo Donut, a local business participating in Hotpot is quoted as saying, “It’s something that helps local businesses. It’ll allow us to interact with our customers more, especially the younger, texting generation.”
Working out the Bugs
That’s not to say there isn’t a downside to NFC. While it’s super convenient to have a chip that holds bank information, coupons and loyalty cards, what do you do if you lose your phone? There’s also concern for how secure it is to transmit your information.
That said, no technology is perfect. Only time will tell whether NFC technology really is the wave of the future, or just another fad that never got off the ground.