The future of NFC in mobile payments and other uses

August 10, 2017 by Innovation for Africa - No Comments

There shall come a time where you can travel and not have to be worried about carrying your bank card or an I.D. card. With the progression and advancements in technology, we might as well brace ourselves for the time where all you will need is a smartphone with NFC capabilities.

For those who may not have come across or used NFC before, and also who don’t even have a clue about what I’m talking about, NFC is short for Near Field Communication. It works when two compatible devices are placed back to back for a transaction or an exchange to take place. In order for this to work, both devices must be equipped with an NFC chip.

No pairing or synchronisation is required in order to exchange data with another device. The chips don’t use up power and are very good in terms of power efficiency as compared to POS devices amongst other wireless communication types and devices.

In a sense, your device becomes your identification and also works as your electronic wallet. Devices are able to interact with NFC chips stocked inside credit cards for contactless payments in turn giving access to your wallet digitally and electronically. Also through applications provided on Google Play Store for Android users and App Store for Apple iOS, users can make payments using the NFC facility.

According to TechRadar, “Virtually every mobile OS maker has their own apps that offer unique NFC functionality. Android users have the widest variety to choose from. The most well-known option is Android Pay, which works on many Android phones and watches, allowing you to access your funds for contactless payments. Samsung Pay, which operates similarly, is available for Samsung phone users in the US, and expected to land in the UK soon. But NFC functionality on phones isn’t limited to payments. There’s also Android Beam, which was implemented way back in 2011 in Android Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0 as a nifty, simple process that allows for the transfer of photos, contacts and directions by holding two phones together.”

In future, NFC could be used by employees with NFC-enabled smartphones and other devices to access staff parking areas or cafeterias and pay for services. NFC tags could also be placed inside meeting or conference rooms, and attendees could tap their compatible devices to silence them or to turn on Wi-Fi, for example.

Some cities and urban areas mostly in Europe are already using NFC to better serve their citizens and improve quality of life. NFC technology could let bus travellers pay for their commutes to work with their mobile devices. Commuters who drive to work could access parking lots and pay for parking with their smartphones. And city residents could get access to public facilities, such as swimming pools or libraries, with a tap of a tablet.

On the business side, shops can place NFC tags in the entrances to their stores so users can check-in automatically on social networks like foursquare or Facebook, or share details or “Likes” with friends. The Walibi amusement park in Belgium recently rolled out a first-of-its-kind NFC-based system called Walibi Connect that lets users scan NFC-enabled bracelets to automatically send updates and Likes of events and attraction at the amusement park to their Facebook pages. The system also rewards frequent users with badges and other achievements based on NFC check-ins.

On the food service side, bars and restaurants can order NFC enabled drink coasters and other promotional materials from a company called RadipNFC so patrons can scan them and get more information on the business or advertisers.

Various universities across the globe are also investigating the potential of NFC. The University of San Francisco is currently using an NFC-based system called One Card for student building access, including dorms and eating facilities, meal payments and laundry costs, among other things.

For air travel, airlines including Alaska Airlines is experimenting with NFC for boarding passes and security access.

For concerts, Samsung is working on a system that will let concert goers access shows and events using NFC instead of traditional paper tickets.

In the auto industry, BMW has built an NFC-enabled car key that can not only unlock an automobile, but also eventually help you book and access hotels room while you’re traveling.

The NFC ship is about to set sail. It is up to us to adopt and embrace the future that NFC holds and upgrade accordingly to the ever-changing arena of technology. Don’t be left behind!

Article by Nelson Madzima