NFC – and the Difference between Payments and Commerce

Sometimes phrases escape that shouldn’t. John Donohoe, CEO of eBay almost certainly wishes his comment that NFC stands for ‘not for commerce’ had been kept locked up. It went viral in a ‘let’s make a headline/host a webinar/write a story’ based on a controversial phrase kind of way.

Such a webinar took place yesterday. This time the phrase was turned into a question – ‘NFC, not for commerce?’ 

Sadly, the webinar was not really about commerce, it was about the old theme of whether NFC was for payments.

Surveys had been carried out that asked a bunch of decision makers whether NFC was for commerce – ‘now’, ‘not really, it is too complex’ or ‘it will become the Betamax of the payments world.’ Not surprisingly when the organisers did the survey again on the attendees a completely different picture appeared.

The reason this happened is that it is the wrong question.

There is absolutely no doubt that NFC is for ‘commerce’. There is equally no doubt that NFC is lagging in the payments space because it is going to be expensive to install at merchants’ sites and the handsets are not here yet.

Commerce is the process of making money out of people who want to do business with you.

Payments is the boring transaction that happens once the commerce has been done.

PayPal has got their thinking right. They are promoting ways of blurring the physical commercial world with the online commercial world and they understand that the solution is the way the two interact. They are ‘keeping an eye’ on NFC, while they produce other functionality that promotes their vision.
NFC is the interface between the real and virtual worlds. As Andre Ponton of Inside Secure says, it is the ‘third interface’, the one that easily inputs information from the physical world into the virtual world where it can be processed in ways that the customer wants it to be processed.

So, no, NFC is perhaps not for payments, per se, but it is absolutely, completely, 100% for commerce – in a thousand ways.

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About Alex Leslie 400 Articles
Alex was Founder and CEO of the Global Billing Association (GBA), a trade body focused on the communications sector. He is a sought after speaker and chairman at leading industry conferences, and is widely published in communications magazines around the world. Until it closed, he was Contributing Editor, OSS/BSS for Connected Planet.

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