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TECHNOLOGY TRACKER: NFC could bring down house of cards

30th October 2008 - 20:43 GMT | by The Shephard News Team

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TECHNOLOGY TRACKER: NFC could bring down house of cards

The resources being expended to put credit-card swipes into IFE and connectivity systems could prove to be misdirected if a new report turns out to be right.

British consultancy Juniper Research says that five years from now 50 per cent of all mobile payments will be facilitated by Near Field Communication (NFC) enabled phones and other devices.  

NFC is a short-range high-frequency wireless communications technology that allows the exchange of data between devices over a distance of about four inches. It’s based on the ISO 14443 proximity-card standard, combining a smartcard and a reader in a single device. NFC devices are therefore compatible with the contactless infrastructure already used for public transport payments.

“NFC is an exciting and versatile technology that has great potential to make many everyday tasks such as buying tickets and other small-value items much easier,” says report author Howard Wilcox. “Users will be able to discover new services by holding their NFC phones next to smart posters and advertisements. The Oyster travel card in London and the recent O2 Wallet trial results confirm the promise of NFC.”

The technology is aimed squarely at mobile phone developers, who have snapped it up with such enthusiasm that, according to another Juniper report, it will have been built into over 700 million handsets by 2013. Add in the OnAir and AeroMobile onboard cellphone services that are slowly but surely making their way into air transport and a whole new way of handling transactions in the cabin presents itself.  

Juniper says the mobile payments market, which is driven today by people buying digital goods such as ringtones, music and games, will shift in future to subscribers transferring money and using NFC features on their handsets to make purchases. As a result, the overall mobile payments market will grow tenfold in the next five years.      

The report sees the emergence of NFC-powered “mobile wallets” enabling people to use their mobile phones to pay for things such as refreshments. Could this spell the end for the North American flight attendant and her wad of tattered dollar bills?  

The Shephard News Team

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