May 22, 2012

NFC PDQ?: Near Field Communications May be Coming Soon to a Handset Near You

This article originally appeared in the May 2012 issue of Next Gen Mobility magazine.

A pack of sweaty reporters crowded into a corner of the GSMA (News - Alert) booth at Mobile World Congress earlier this year to get the latest on the hot topic known as near field communications.

NFC, as you probably already know, is the underlying technology behind many of the world’s mobile wallet initiatives. Indeed, the GSMA in Barcelona reported that as of November 2011, 45 of the world’s leading mobile operators had committed to use SIM-based NFC to power their services. That list includes such companies as AT&T, China Mobile (News - Alert), China Unicom, Deutsche Telekom, KT Corp., SOFTBANK MOBILE, Telefónica, and Verizon. Supporters of NFC also include the ISIS mobile wallet effort by partners AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile (News - Alert) USA and Verizon Wireless.

The implementation of NFC-powered services is predicated upon the availability and adoption of wireless devices that support near field communications. GSMA offered encouraging forecasts on that front as well.

According to the association and research firm Strategy Analytics (News - Alert), almost 1.5 billion SIM-based NFC handsets are expected to sell worldwide between 2010 and 2016. Those devices are expected to drive more than $50 billion in transactions globally by 2016. And then you have your point-of-sale terminals; 85 percent of PoS terminals shipped in 2016 are expected to be NFC capable, according to ABI Research, which GSMA also quotes.

Handset vendors helping drive forward NFC include Samsung (News - Alert), RIM and Nokia. Noticeably absent from the group is Apple.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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