The roll out and success of NFC – and particularly NFC as a form of mobile payment – has been thoroughly examined, not least by us. Apart from the people who are involved, NFC has been criticized and laughed at almost universally.
One point that we missed is that NFC will succeed in specific markets for specific reasons.
Take Canada as an example. Mark Farmer, late of Rogers and now with consultancy Airdreams, believes that “NFC will have an interim value in that the infrastructure – at least in Canada – is wide spread which means that a phone that is NFC enabled can instantly replace a wallet full of cards.”
The key, for Farmer, is a truly open wallet, with ubiquity. As Canada begins to roll out transit passes similar to Oyster cards and our wallets get ever fuller with health cards, driving licenses and the like, the opportunity for a mobile wallet becomes interesting. According to Farmer, though, “the really interesting use cases are the opt-in check-ins with added technology like Bluetooth Low Energy or BLE. It provides the opportunity for enhanced service experience and better understanding of loyalty.” This is as long as the merchant can access the check-in events and correlate to behaviour of that customer.
The window is a five year opportunity, possibly more – in Canada at least.
Meanwhile Farmer reinforces the belief that NFC is compelling in certain markets and at certain stages – Latin America is an interesting – and complex – opportunity. He believes that “the US will never go NFC. That is why Apple is skipping it all together and going for iBeacon based on BLE. They aren’t even using smart cards. It’s still all mag stripes down there.”
We have officially revised our view of the potential of NFC, but only slightly.