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News - 23 January 2010

From mobile phone to mobile wallet

Just when you thought they had packed all the applications imaginable into the mobile phone it will soon be time to ditch your current model and move on. The newest phones to hit the market in 2011 promise so much more.

A new mobile phone technology called Near Field Communication (NFC) will begin to replace traditional wallets and purses from 2011, according to a new research report.

Banks and mobile network operators will be seeking to make money from the introduction of the new mobile payments technology, the report predicts, and are poised to go head to head in a bid to gain control of the market.

"NFC technology will be used to replace everything from credit cards and loyalty cards to bus and train tickets, library cards, door keys and even cash," says Sarah Clark, author of 'NFC: The Road to Commercial Deployment'. "What hasn't yet been decided, however, is who will win the battle to provide consumers with their new hi-tech mobile wallets."

The UK, France, United Arab Emirates, Singapore, Taiwan and Korea will be the first countries to adopt the new technology, the report predicts. The US, Canada, Spain, Germany, Italy, Norway, the Czech Republic, Romania and Australia are also expected to come on board early.

Businesses ranging from retail and travel to fast food, consumer goods, tourism and entertainment are all expected to be affected by the arrival of NFC services. Government and educational service providers will also be impacted by its arrival.

"Decisions made in 2010 will be critical in determining which mobile network operators, which banks, which industry suppliers and which service providers become the leaders in the field," she adds. "Ultimately, only two or three companies in each country will succeed in building a major new business providing NFC services to businesses and consumers. The winners could be banks or mobile operators, or even a new entrant to the market."

Consumers with NFC-enabled phones will be able to simply touch their phone to a 'smart' poster or product label containing an RFID chip to sign up for a loyalty programme, collect a money-off coupon, download a trailer for a new movie, access the latest travel information or go straight to a product's website to read customer ratings and reviews and compare prices.

Social networks will also get a major boost. With an NFC phone, you can friend someone online when you meet them in the real world by simply touching your phones together. Or touch your phone to a smart poster as you go into a restaurant to automatically update your Facebook status and get an offer coupon from the venue as a thank you for telling your friends you're there.

Commuters will be able to store their travel pass on their phone and mobile versions of airline boarding cards, hotel room keys and even passports will make it quicker and easier to get from place to place. Paying bills will become much simpler, too. Simply touch two NFC phones together to transfer money to a friend, buy a drink or pay for a service.

"No more rummaging around for the right change, card, keys or paperwork and no more texting your location to your friends -- with NFC everything can be handled by your mobile device," says Clark. "And, of course, NFC is a highly secure technology. Consumers will be able to instantly lock all the mobile wallet services on their phone if it is lost or stolen and then get them automatically transferred onto a new phone as soon as it arrives. They will also be able to use their phone to make payments even when the battery is flat."

'NFC: The Road to Commercial Deployment' examines the international market for near field communication technology from 2010 to 2014. It is published by SJB Research, a UK company specialising in analysing the market for emerging technologies in the mobile and payments fields. SJB also produces he international industry news website Near Field Communications World.

The report provides detailed guidance for banks and mobile operators looking to introduce NFC successfully and for companies wishing to offer NFC services to their customers. It includes an analysis of the technical and business challenges that still need to be resolved and explains how mobile operators, banks, handset manufacturers, industry suppliers and key potential NFC service providers will resolve those issues during 2010.

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SJB Research
Clark, Sarah

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