NFC mobile payments to hit mainstream by 2014

One in five smartphones to have near-field communications technology in three years...

One in five smartphones to have near-field communications technology in three years...

NFC technology allows shoppers to pay for low-value items using their mobile

NFC technology allows shoppers to pay for low-value items using their mobile phonesPhoto: Natasha Lomas/silicon.com

Even though the first near-field communications (NFC) smartphone is not yet available to UK consumers, analysts at Juniper Research believe NFC technology will enter the mainstream in three years.

A Juniper report predicts that one in five smartphones will be NFC-enabled worldwide by 2014.

The technology allows small-value payments to be made by swiping an NFC-enabled handset over a contactless reader, often without shoppers having to enter a PIN to complete the transaction.

According to the report, NFC is attracting the attention of major firms such as Google, France Telecom-Orange and Telefonica, which see it as a important commercial opportunity.

Report author Howard Wilcox said in a statement that although NFC rollout still faces hurdles, "NFC prospects have been boosted by the succession of mobile-operator and device-vendor agreements."

However, the report warns that the business models behind NFC rollout still require development before the full potential of NFC services can be achieved.

The report also predicted that north America will account for half of all NFC smartphones in 2014.

So far, NFC technology has only been tested in the UK, while countries such as Japan have enjoyed the mobile payment technology for years.

Although the UK could be about to catch up as Everything Everywhere, owner of Orange and T-Mobile in the UK, announced it would be releasing the UK's first NFC-enabled mobile phone early this summer in partnership with Barclaycard.

RIM's UK MD Stephen Bates also announced last month that RIM would be putting NFC technology into nearly all its devices released this year.

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