A few weeks back I was at Mobile World Congress, and NFC was literally everywhere. The financial giants were jockeying for position at the show as they bid to get their piece of the mobile money action. Both Visa and MasterCard announced significant partnerships at NFC, and with good reason when the sheer size of the global market is a game changer to say the least.
MasterCard unveiled a new digital payment system while Visa announced an alliance with Samsung to equip the phones with NFC technology.Industry analyst firm ABI Research reported that the Visa deal had the potential to accelerate the mobile payments industry.
Even with these industry developments, I’m still not convinced that NFC is the industry’s answer to making mobile payments a reality around the globe. I’ve long held that NFC stands for not for commerce, and I’m not alone in this opinion.
PayPal’s CEO David Marcus was very vocal at Mobile World Congress about how “NFC is technology in search of a problem” and “By the time NFC catches up, we’ll be in a world that will move away from POS terminals.” PayPal is doing some innovative work with mobile payments away from NFC, so this may be entirely self-serving, or incredibly astute.
Only time will tell if NFC is for commerce or not, but I remain skeptical at best that this will be the way mobile money becomes mainstream.