NFC News

Near Field Communication (NFC) will be the buzzword 

Every Mobile World Congress has a buzzword - more often than not an acronym - and this year it is likely to be NFC - Near Field Communication. NFC is the technology that allows mobile phones to be turned into payment devices, replacing credit cards, loyalty cards, travel cards and other vouchers.

BBC News 13th Feb 2011

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BMW are working on a Near-Field Communication (NFC) enabled fob that will act as a car key, train ticket and make purchases. BMW announced that they are working with transport companies, financial institutions and companies involved in the hospitality business. I'm not 100% sold on this as I'm sure that in the very short space of time will see NFC Smart Phones morph into completly new beasts. I predict tha

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Near Field Communication

An Introduction to Near Field Communication (NFC)

Near Field Communication (NFC) technology establishes mutual reciprocal wireless communication between two devices at short-range. The idea stemmed from Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology and allows users to maximise communication and applications. Applications could be file sharing, purchasing tickets and many more. This is an incredibly handy tool for a wide spectrum of consumers.

NFCBluetooth may have a speedier maximum data transfer rate than NFC, while still being classed under the short-range communicative technology, but  Near Field Communication (NFC) far exceeds Bluetooth when focusing on its user friendly template and optimum security. With the ability to transfer data across a 10cm distance, NFC will allow the user to access a range of services such as paying for public transport. This invaluable tool stores your information so that there is no need to ‘pair’ devices in order to authenticate. Because this technology was borne from RFID, Near Field Communication (NFC) is fully compatible with RFID. Another great feature of NFC is that it uses considerably less power than Bluetooth and can still work if the receiver is not powered.

With its incredible flexibility and huge spectrum of applications, NFC has been established for having the capacity to evolve into a wide variety of connected devices. INSIDE Contactless is a company determined to promote NFC as a safe, speedy and consistent tool for a plethora of transactions such as payments, access control, transportation and electronic identification. INSIDE is a semi conductor provider and they are the driving force behind NFC’s global promotion. INSIDE are using NFC within PC peripherals, mobiles, key fobs, smart cards and Point of Sale (POS). It has been shown that Near Field Communication (NFC) is most widely used within the mobile phone arena, based on consumer activities.

Challenges for the Mass adoption of NFC

There is still a  way to go for Near Field Communication (NFC) to accomplish an optimum of mass market rollout. This is because there are over four billion mobile phones and one billion smart cards in use globally, however NFC has as yet fully tapped into this potential. There are barriers behind accomplishing this but the general mobile industry is working hard to overcome these barriers and deliver a successful international rollout. The projection shown by respected analysts Juniper Research, shows statistics that estimate a one in six NFC mobile usage by 2014. In this fast moving marketplace these projections may be well off the mark for it was thought that NFC enabled phones would be mostly restricted to the Smart Phone segment but in early 2011 a number of phone manufacturers announced they would be producing simple NFC enabled mobiles.

In order for this to happen, it is imperative that the major players within the global mobile system work together. This will include mobile operators, device manufacturers, banks, service providers and third parties. This is starting to happen with the development of new NFC devices and services within Banka Koper, Mastercard Europe and Mobitel in Slovenia. By using contactless payment services such as MasterCard payPass technology and Visa's payWave it will offer a speedy, simplified and secure way of paying by tapping the device on a reader connected to a POS terminal a NFC Reader.

Sagem Wireless are one of the companies leading the way with committing to developing new, state of the art devices that will embed NFC technology as an efficient application. An example of this would be Sagem’s CosyPhone. CosyPhone has integrated NFC technology and is focused on the over 50’s market whereby offering a simple tool specifically tailored to suit lifestyle requirements. An example of this would be the ability for Near Field Communication (NFC) to allow the over 50’s to access pre configured services such as shortcut calls to friends, family and their doctor. It can even help with the weekly shopping. There is even the option of simplifying greetings by allowing pre configured text messages to be sent to loved ones.

Without the co-operation of companies within the mobile arena then the mass integration of Near Field Communication (NFC) will not be possible. This is very important because NFC relies on the birth of new connected services and revenue in order to be implemented globally. Another key player for the implementation of NFC Technology are the credit card companies and banks. This is because they will need to create a secure setting for payment transactions using NFC.

There are many hurdles to overcome in order to make this a global success but it has been shown that 2010 is the year to pin point the big mover and shakers within the NFC arena.

Near Field Communication (NFC) is coming to life

Technology is rapidly changing, which means, mobile devices are changing. Smart Phones have introduced the mobile data services to consumers driven by desire for more efficient tools. The potential for Near Field Communication (NFC) driven devices to create a huge influx of revenue has been noted by key players and this is reflected by market driver statistics. Developing their own NFC brands and tapping into the market that the SmartPhone and App Store reign over has become a key focus for operators. They wish to create their own brands targeted at specific consumers and using NFC to optimise their products. Operators realise that  NFC enabled devices have the capacity to change the way we pay for our goods and services, access information, and transfer data permanently.

  • Ticketing: Following on from worldwide pilots, payment for tickets using NFC technology has proved to be extremely popular. France, Germany and the Netherlands have successfully shown that NFC technology has surpassed expectations and superseded existing “smart” cards already in use. “Touch in” and “Touch out” is a system that users utilise in order to begin and complete a journey. NFC also has the ability for users to tap into additional services such as, topping up balances or viewing travel information.
  • Payment: The "Electronic Wallet" is an extremely handy tool to have. Technology has evolved so consumers are no longer limited to topping up balances. It is now possible to add debit and credit card details and then use NFC to pay for any goods wanted. Obviously, retailers would need to buy into this service by integrating hardware that is compatible with NFC Technology. The beginning of this is now on the horizon with contactless payments, m-payments being implemented within the London Olympics 2012. This will include having smart tickets which have the dual function of acting as contactless payment and travel cards. Juniper research projects that by 2014 North America and Western Europe will follow Asia by implementing this technology across the board. By 2014, it is estimated that this will mean that NFC technology will be used to pay for US$110 billion. Pilots have been successful within Disneyland, Paris and Australia’s Telstra.
  • Sharing: There are numerous files on a consumer’s personal mobile device that they wish to share. This will include photos and video games. NFC simplifies sharing of things like music files and is a highly useful tool regardless of demographic – youth to corporate. It is also possible to open up the marketing and advertising arena by making adverts interactive using NFC technology. Should an advert take an interest then a user could scan their phone past the advert and download the information. This can then be shared to friends. This can further be tapped into by the advertisers offering discounts if downloaded or promotional gifts.
    The Centre Pompidou in Paris rolled out an innovative project called the Smart Muse. Using NFC Technology, visitors carry a Sagem Wireless NFC-enabled mobile phone while looking at exhibits. This mobile allows visitors to access artist history, videos and interviews while looking at a specific art work. With the ability to share this information and exhibitions via the Facebook site, it has become an incredibly popular tool. The Teen Gallery, opening later this year, is another gallery that will roll out this technology. The first city to use NFC technology within its touring operations is Nice, South of France. Smart Muse joins Sagem Wireless, INSIDE Contactless and CONNECTHINGS in partnership to deliver a highly innovative service. CONNECTHINGS are a pioneer in developing tags and contextualized-location and time-based-content management systems. This state of the art service has been funded using a grant from France’s Ministry of Economy, Industry and Employment.

There are unlimited possibilities when thinking about where to implement NFC technology. The world is evolving at such a rate and consumers are becoming more aware of which devices would help make their lives easier, that implementing NFC within the field will generate unlimited applications.

NFC applications

the first stage of NFC implementation was within the payment and ticketing area of transportation. As can be seen, pilots have proved to be extremely positive and new ways are being formulated to tap into the connectivity enablers. As NFC compatible devices increase, key operators are increasingly working in partnership to form an infrastructure that will house the global explosion of NFC technology.

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