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THE FUTURE IS BRIGHT, BUT NOT FOR NFC

Entwined in the mcommerce story has been the growth of NFC. For years, the hardware/software combination has been tipped to replace the wallet and open up the opportunity for consumers to make mobile purchases in physical retail outlets. Its star however has dimmed as Apple has failed to implement the technology in a succession of iPhone products.

Indeed, NFC needs Apple’s support. Despite sales of NFC-enabled smartphones tripling to 140 million units in 2012, the technology will remain niche unless it is integrated within the iPhone. This looks unlikely, with Apple seemingly preferring other technologies. As a result, Gartner has downgraded its forecasted transaction value of NFC by over 40%, suggesting the software will only account for 2% of all mobile commerce transactions this year.

Others are seemingly sceptical too. PayPal president David Marcus said last year “the NFC payments debate will slowly die in 2013”. The company believes NFC only offers a slightly different, more techy experience to the one consumers are currently comfortable with: a user would still have to reach into their pocket, pull out their phone, enter a PIN and then use a computer terminal. To PayPal, the service offers no reason for consumers to adopt.

Some retailers will continue to persist with NFC in the cshowoming years – Marks and Spencer, for example, has invested significantly in contactless payment terminals. However, without the support of two of the largest tech firms within the mobile payments battle, Apple and PayPal, NFC risks being displaced to the mobile scrapheap.

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