NFC, TfL and some much needed TLC

As you know, NFC is a favourite topic here at BillingViews Labs.

Over the years it has given us the opportunity to write poetry about it, be rude about it and, of course, when ISIS was born gave us the perfect excuse to rhyme ISIS with crisis.

So when news came through that Transport for London (TfL) were toying with the idea of using NFC enabled phones to pay for transport, in London, we were quickly sharpening our keyboards.

But the news was stubbornly sensible. And highlights a critical point.

While we have been busy making fun of NFC, NFC has been doing what we predicted it would do. Disappearing.

When customers wave their phone at the pad by the gate across London, they will not be thinking ‘Hurrah, my NFC enabled device has just made my journey quicker and better,’ they will think, if think they do ‘cool, I can use my phone.’ In the same way that the upwards of 60 million Oyster cards already use NFC – and no-one notices.

We got it wrong by fixating on NFC for payments, when it is not. As someone said a couple of years ago now, “NFC is bigger than mobile payments, and mobile payments are bigger than NFC.”

As Dave Birch puts it, very nicely, ‘NFC is not a business model.’ And he refers to David Marcus of PayPal, who virtually wrote NFC off not so long ago, when he quotes him as saying that he is now ‘cautiously optimistic about NFC … in very specific shopping use cases.’

That, in a slightly round about way is the point about NFC. It is not about the technology, nor about how it might or might not fit into an operator’s technology portfolio, it is ‘a quick and simple means of transferring data over a short range!’ David Birch again.

As we have said before, NFC will disappear into the background of our lives, amongst other things, making shopping experiences that bit richer and us that bit poorer. But happy.

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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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