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Near Field Communications. Did you say 75 billion dollars? In 5 years?

Aye that’s the stat from Juniper Research. They reckon that, all things being equal, the Near Field Communication (“NFC”) mobile payments market will exceed $75 billion dollars by 2013. In just 5 years time.

The concept with NFC is that you can’t be bothered to root around for 55p for a Bounty or a Mars Bar when you’re passing a stall on the Station platform and you’re in a hurry to catch a train.

Simply pick up the product and wave your NFC-enabled device (an Oyster Card, for example) at the reader and, bish bash bosh, you’ve paid. For low-value purchases, this makes a lot of sense.

I wouldn’t, for example, want to wave my NFC unit at the diamond shop. I’d want a sales assistant to take my card, another to give me a back massage and another to perhaps offer me some chilled Irn Bru and tell me I was a glorious husband — and I’d want the transaction process to last a good 10-15 minutes. But buying a newspaper, or a bag of crisps or anything that’s sub £1… yup, NFC is the way ahead.

The study by Juniper Research reckons that — all things being equal — mobile payment services (of whatever configuration) could transform the mobile device into a mobile wallet.

I say ‘all things being equal’ and highlight it in bold because there’s a heck of a lot of work to do in this area.

Let’s not forget, this is the industry that can’t get it’s grandma to make a sodding phone call or send a text message, so you’ll forgive me if I don’t leap for joy at the prospect of this kind of thing happening tomorrow.

But it must. This must happen. It’s the right way ahead.

I don’t really want to carry piece of plastic. I don’t see much utility for them, on their own. They’re a bind. And carrying pieces of metal about to swap for products and services is, literally, stone-age.

It makes sense. Arsing about with 20 pence pieces or nickels or quarters is ridiculous. I don’t want the friction. I don’t want the hassle. I don’t want the fake-smile from the till girl telling me, ‘sorry, I don’t have any ten pound notes,’ as she hands me a bucketload of 50p pieces. Joy. I now sound like a real moneybags wandering down the street, jingle, jingle, jingle as I step.

For everybody thinking it’d be rather cool to swipe your iPhone at the shopkeeper when picking up your newspaper in the morning, sit back and dream on. Dream on for the moment. That’s because it’s only really the Japanese — the ultra smart, ultra organised — Japanese, who’re knocking this one about with their FeliCa-enabled handsets (so reckons, report author, Howard Wilcox). Wilcox goes on to point out that “North America, Western Europe and countries such as Korea, Singapore and Australia are likely to see service take-up.”

Joy. Don’t hold your breath. FIVE years?

It’s conceivable. It really is.

And you know what, I’d like to be the vanguard, right at the front, cheering the way. I’ll see what I can do.

Meantime, highlights from the Juniper report include:

• Global annual gross transaction value will grow over 5 times between 2011 and 2013
• 2009 will see limited numbers of NFC devices shipped (except in the Far East & China region) but the market will begin to ramp up from 2010 onwards and by 2013 20%, or 1 in 5 phones shipped, will possess NFC capability.
• The top 3 regions (Far East & China, North America and W. Europe) will represent nearly 90% of the $75bn p.a. market (by gross transaction value) by 2013.

There was a note of caution in Wilcox’s news release:

“Whilst trial results so far have been encouraging, the industry as a whole will need to convince both consumers and merchants of the merits of yet another payment mechanism on top of cash, cheques, credit and debit cards, and to allay understandable (even if unfounded) fears and scepticism about the security of The Mobile Wallet.”

I don’t have any fears. The industry needs to get it right, but as for fears about the mobile wallet … no way. We’re already doing it with the Oyster Card here in London.

I don’t think it’ll take much convincing at all.

And for the mobile operators out there, panicking about their loss of voice revenue, forget that. Give that away for free. You want a slice of the commerce revenue when you turn yourselves into NFC transaction specialists. Just a small slice and the billions will arrive.

We shall see.

By Ewan

Ewan is Founder and Editor of Mobile Industry Review. He writes about a wide variety of industry issues and is usually active on Twitter most days. You can read more about him or reach him with these details.

11 replies on “Near Field Communications. Did you say 75 billion dollars? In 5 years?”

I heard about this a couple of years ago, and it seems like an interesting idea, and certainly very innovative.

However, as you mentioned about the confusion already existing about how to use Mobile phones, as the mobile phones themselves in still great existance, it doesn't make sense to confuse people even more.

Although, I would love to be able to go out, and not have to take my Oyster card. Not only is the picture on mine (young people are punished with having photocards) terrible, but it's a hassle.

Samantha.

Ewan: take the frustration you felt in your earlier post (your rant about how slow the industy moves);

Now consider that getting NFC payments to work at scale requires that not only the mobile industry get it's act together, but also the banking and retail industries;

Shake it all up and imagine the challenge.

At the moment there is a bit of a 'mexican stand-off' between the interested parties, primarily because it is not at all clear who will pay for the infrastructure upgrades required. No-one doubts it will be a 'good thing' but getting there will be very hard.

I think there is scope for someone with a brand new business model to sweep in and introduce the service on the back of some other service innovation. Bank branded MVNO's, anyone?

Ewan: take the frustration you felt in your earlier post (your rant about how slow the industy moves);

Now consider that getting NFC payments to work at scale requires that not only the mobile industry get it's act together, but also the banking and retail industries;

Shake it all up and imagine the challenge.

At the moment there is a bit of a 'mexican stand-off' between the interested parties, primarily because it is not at all clear who will pay for the infrastructure upgrades required. No-one doubts it will be a 'good thing' but getting there will be very hard.

I think there is scope for someone with a brand new business model to sweep in and introduce the service on the back of some other service innovation. Bank branded MVNO's, anyone?

I heard about this a couple of years ago, and it seems like an interesting idea, and certainly very innovative.

However, as you mentioned about the confusion already existing about how to use Mobile phones, as the mobile phones themselves in still great existance, it doesn't make sense to confuse people even more.

Although, I would love to be able to go out, and not have to take my Oyster card. Not only is the picture on mine (young people are punished with having photocards) terrible, but it's a hassle.

Samantha.

Ewan: take the frustration you felt in your earlier post (your rant about how slow the industy moves);

Now consider that getting NFC payments to work at scale requires that not only the mobile industry get it's act together, but also the banking and retail industries;

Shake it all up and imagine the challenge.

At the moment there is a bit of a 'mexican stand-off' between the interested parties, primarily because it is not at all clear who will pay for the infrastructure upgrades required. No-one doubts it will be a 'good thing' but getting there will be very hard.

I think there is scope for someone with a brand new business model to sweep in and introduce the service on the back of some other service innovation. Bank branded MVNO's, anyone?

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