Square COO: NFC will not become mainstream in U.S.

Square's chief operating officer discusses where mobile payments are headed in the U.S., but he doesn't see NFC as one of the primary drivers.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor

Mobile payments are being adopted by merchants and consumers alike, but don't expect NFC technology to be the de facto choice down the line, said Keith Rabois, Square's chief operating officer, when speaking with GigaOM's founder Om Malik during the Mobilize 2011 forum in San Francisco on Monday afternoon.

Instead, Rabois reiterated the preference for plastic.

"Square starts with a simple premise that everyone in the United States should be able to accept credit cards," Rabois said.

While that is not the case in the real world, Rabois acknowledge that the swipe of a credit card is so engrained in the culture of consumerization that anyone from the age of six years old or greater knows exactly how to do it.

Rabois asserted that Square is committed to addressing the needs for both sides of the counter, and mobile devices enable merchants and consumers as they have the computing power of a traditional computer in their pockets on smartphones. Tablets become even more valuable as they offer the real estate with the display sizes for tacking on more features for both groups.

Nevertheless, Rabois pointed out that 35 percent of Square's user base still uses stationary functionality on a PC rather than on a mobile device.

However, going back to NFC, Rabois laid it all on the line. While he acknowledge that this may change in the future, Square doesn't see NFC payments on mobile devices becoming mainstream with most Americans, adding that he has never met a single merchant in the United States that asked for NFC.

"Technology is a way of delivering a value proposition," Rabois argued, explaining that NFC "makes for good cocktail chatter," but that it won't offer the best solution for digital payments.

Editorial standards