Payments and Consumer Technology Leaders See Mass Market Ahead for NFC
News from Smart Card Alliance NFC Solutions Summit Day One
NFC SOLUTIONS SUMMIT 2012, BURLINGAME, CALIFORNIA, MAY 23, 2012–Executives from MasterCard, Sony, Intel, and other leading companies took the stage yesterday at day one of the Smart Card Alliance’s NFC Solutions Summit 2012 and they all agree: NFC is coming soon, and when it does, it will enable a broad array of applications that will enhance the consumer experience–at the point-of-sale (POS) and in everyday interactions.
The journey to NFC is in the “middle stages” and NFC is “getting well along the way to mass market adoption,” James Anderson, group head and SVP, Mobile and Emerging Payments at MasterCard, told more than 400 Summit attendees during his keynote. MasterCard made its commitment to bring NFC to consumers because NFC has so much potential beyond payments, Anderson said, and that “payment can be an enabler to a rich ecosystem of services.”
According to Anderson, one of the ways to get consumers to use NFC technology is to put the technology “on the phones that people want to buy.” He named several new mobile devices that have been certified as “PayPass Ready,” a new mark that will identify to consumers that the handsets are capable of NFC payments. Anderson also talked about MasterCard’s decision to bridge together a remote wallet service with its contactless product with ”PayPass Wallet Services,” saying that the “PC channel and POS channel are merging,” and it is a “big stake in the ground to call this whole new world of payments ‘PayPass.’” At a press conference held during the Summit, Peter Ho, product manager for Wells Fargo Card Services and Consumer Lending, agreed with Anderson that payments will enable more NFC services. He said that “this is the best time to be in the payments business” because payments will lead to an “offer engine” for consumers and ultimately, there will be convergence of NFC into the identity space. Mobile payment is important, but the availability of an array of innovative non-payment applications may be the key to wide consumer use of NFC, Koichi Tagawa, chair of the NFC Forum, and the general manager of Global Standards and Industry Relations Department at Sony, said in his keynote. Tagawa cited the example of Japan, which has used mobile payments phones for several years but doesn’t have the read/write (i.e., exchanging information with a smart poster or tag), or peer-to-peer (i.e., exchange data with another NFC device) capabilities that NFC offers. Though there are 70 million mobile payment-enabled devices in Japan, only 25 percent of the population utilizes the technology because of the lack of these non-payment applications, according to Tagawa.
Tagawa also said that ensuring a widespread consumer base for NFC technology will require “global interoperability of contactless specifications implemented into mobile devices.” He challenged the audience to use the NFC Forum’s open and global set of specifications to develop as many creative applications as possible for hospitality, retail, physical access, social media, gaming, workforce audits, and more.
Speaking on Intel’s recent efforts to enable NFC technology across its product lines, including its new tablets and Ultrabooks, Carlos Aguirre, Intel’s wireless marketing product line manager, favorably compared NFC to the more-difficult-to-pair Bluetooth technology. Aguirre said “NFC is dramatically easier” and that NFC “could be the de facto standard in the future for how wireless devices pair,” including keyboards, mice, speakers, televisions, stereo systems, cameras, and much more. It is this simplicity of use that is going to drive consumer demand for NFC-enabled devices. He said, “Users are going to start to demand the simplicity of getting exactly what they want, when they want it, without all of the additional steps and without all of the additional accessories.”
Aditya Khurjekar, mobile consultant, formerly of Verizon Wireless, urged the audience to look at NFC from the consumer point of view, and give them what they expect: new mobile experiences, and more advanced experiences as handset technology evolves. He encouraged the industry to get NFC on as many mobile devices as possible, especially in the “coolest phones,” and to “launch something already” so the consumers can experiment with the technology. You “can’t have a grand equation for how consumers will behave–they will tell us,” he said. Khurjekar also said not to worry about “black holes,” or limitations of mobile devices and operating systems, and that “a healthy ecosystem will find a way to work around black holes.” In closing, he told the audience that they’ve barely seen the wide-ranging benefits of NFC yet. “We’re just getting started,” he promised.
Today’s Summit featured concurrent sessions on technology, hardware and applications, and business services. There was also a panel on NFC non-payments services. Tomorrow, the Alliance will host ”NFC OPEN Unconference Day,” an innovative open conference format. A facilitator will enlist attendees to propose self-organizing sessions and presentations in areas dealing with NFC technology and business adoption issues and opportunities. For more information about Unconference Day, visit http://www.cvent.com/events/nfc-solutions-summit-2012/custom-37-428ceac64a914cfaa4b34ae53444cf08.aspx. Participants are encouraged to submit topics on the NFC OPEN wiki at http://www.smartcardalliance.org/nfcopen/index.php/Main_Page.
For more information on the Summit, visit http://www.smartcardalliance.org/nfcsolutions. Follow the Smart Card Alliance at @SmartCardOrgUSA, read and/or share your own news from the event on Twitter with hashtag #nfcsolutions.
Sponsors of the Summit are Infineon Technologies, Cubic Corporation, INSIDE Secure, Gemalto, Identive, and ViVOtech. More than twenty exhibitors are also showcasing their technology at this first joint NFC-themed Smart Card Alliance and NFC Forum event.
About the Smart Card Alliance
The Smart Card Alliance is a not-for-profit, multi-industry association working to stimulate the understanding, adoption, use and widespread application of smart card technology.
Through specific projects such as education programs, market research, advocacy, industry relations and open forums, the Alliance keeps its members connected to industry leaders and innovative thought. The Alliance is the single industry voice for smart cards, leading industry discussion on the impact and value of smart cards in the U.S. and Latin America. For more information please visit http://www.smartcardalliance.org.
About the NFC Forum
The NFC Forum was launched as a non-profit industry association in 2004 by leading mobile communications, semiconductor, and consumer electronics companies. The Forum’s mission is to advance the use of Near Field Communication technology by developing specifications, ensuring interoperability among devices and services, and educating the market about NFC technology. The Forum’s 160+ global member companies currently are developing specifications for a modular NFC device architecture, and protocols for interoperable data exchange and device-independent service delivery, device discovery, and device capability.
The NFC Forum’s Sponsor members, which hold seats on the Board of Directors, include leading players in key industries around the world. The Sponsor members are: Barclaycard, Broadcom Corporation, INSIDE Secure, MasterCard Worldwide, Microsoft Corp., NEC, Nokia, NTT DOCOMO, Inc., NXP Semiconductors, Renesas Electronics Corporation, Samsung, Sony Corporation, STMicroelectronics, and Visa Inc.