Near-field communications (NFC) has been trashed by critics, who say it adds no value to consumers or is a technology in search of a need. But as we’ve pointed out, NFC is just a technology that can applied in a lot of different ways, apart from the digital wallet framework that many people understand it through.
And increasingly, we’re seeing more and more interesting projects and applications being built that show how NFC will be deployed outside of mobile payment situations. This not only indicates how flexible the technology is but also could help propel the overall technology in adoption, as consumers become aware of NFC and learn to use it for a variety of reasons.
Right now, NFC is still below the radar for most U.S. consumers and the slow roll out of Google Wallet or the pending launch of Isis next year are by themselves only going to accelerate NFC adoption by so much. But having a host of uses for the technology could open people’s eyes and push them past any usability or safety concerns.
Here’s a look at some of recent interesting developments:
These are just a sample of the projects and real applications leveraging NFC. As you can see, none of them are actual mobile wallets. The biggest thing they provide is a real short cut to information and actions that can happen without much work. Many of these things can be done through QR codes, bumping, Bluetooth or other methods, but NFC provides a very simple and often elegant way to get through the process.
Also, in some of these cases, what’s also nice is that since they aren’t trying to conduct sensitive transactions, they don’t need to access the secure element inside a phone. That could be a limiting factor in the roll out of NFC, because the owners of the secure element, often the carriers, don’t seem to be in a hurry to enable a lot of other NFC payments systems. But with a host of other non payment uses emerging, users won’t have to wait to find out if their digital wallet is enabled on their particular phone. There might be other ways they can experience the power of NFC first. That will help in just teaching people the practice of tapping for information, transactions and access.
We’re still very early in the NFC game and the phones are just now trickling out in the U.S. But there’s going to be a much bigger flow of NFC-equipped phones starting next year. It’ll be these broader applications that might convince users that the technology has merit.
Related research and analysis from GigaOM Pro:
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