Contactless technology set to take off with NFC enabled smartphones

The day is drawing nearer when consumers with NFC enabled smartphones will use their phones in a different way – with paying for goods and retrieving information becoming second nature. With NFC predicted to make the greatest impact in the world of retail, Signbox’s Mark Bartlett, a leading expert on NFC technology, comments on how NFC will transform the retail environment.

It’s now widely recognised that the ubiquity and multi-functionality of smartphones positions mobile technology to replace the physical wallet.  Mobile payments that use contactless technology are simply an alternative to paying with cash, credit cards and contactless cards. The mobile phone becomes a point of sale wallet replacement – a mobile or digital wallet.  Google, Apple and Microsoft have all moved into the market for digital wallets. For now, these technology companies are working with banks and credit card companies to implement mobile payment solutions.

Consumers, and indeed many retailers, could be forgiven for a lack of understanding or confusion about contactless technology, especially with all the global “noise” surrounding the arrival of Near Field Communication, or as it is more commonly known, NFC.  It’s NFC that is behind many mobile payment solutions and what is driving the inexorable rise in contactless technology.

Mark Bartlett, whose company Signbox Ltd has pioneered the development of smart posters that incorporate NFC technology, comments, “NFC is unequivocally the breakthrough technology – with NFC we can look ahead to the day in the near future when consumers with NFC enabled smartphones will use their phones in a different way – with paying for goods and retrieving information becoming second nature; leading to a seismic shift in the retail landscape with NFC predicted to make the greatest impact in the world of retail.”

Bartlett says that the tipping point for NFC mobile payments will come in 2015 when there will be a sufficient volume of NFC enabled smartphones, with the forecast being that, worldwide, NFC enabled handset penetration will reach more than 51% or 863 million smartphones. At this time consumers around the world could generate over $50 billion in sales through NFC-based mobile payments.

Bartlett adds, “Basically NFC facilitates data transfer between two ‘devices’ when placed a few centimetres apart – swiped or “tapped”. With NFC there are no services to sign up for. No PINs or passwords to enter.  NFC is a wireless technology that enables data exchange or information delivery and communication to occur between any two electronic devices when they are in close proximity of each other. If you tap your NFC enabled device to another NFC enabled device or tap point, like a smart poster or label, you can retrieve almost any kind of data.”

Utilising NFC, campaign managers and retailers can deliver payment options, coupons, loyalty programmes, brand apps, links to join interactive games, product information, social media connections and so on.

“In fact one of the biggest misconceptions is that NFC is just about mobile payments. Yet the focus of the NFC market is actually shifting from payment applications and it is forecast that by 2016 70% of NFC tag shipments will end up being used in marketing and promotional applications,” Bartlett points out.

He adds that store owners and brand custodians can already embed the technology into a variety of marketing collateral such as advertisements, signs, business cards, stickers and smart posters – the latter probably becoming the biggest marketing use of NFC technology.

Bartlett concludes that, “When a smartphone becomes a portable NFC reader, the possibilities really are endless.  With NFC the retail landscape will change forever and forward thinking retailers are now making plans to exploit the amazing opportunities presented by this breakthrough technology”.

For more information visit Signbox’s dedicated website www.smartposter.co