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“The future for NFC (Near Field Communication) looks very bright. Analysts have predicted that by 2015, one in two mobile phones will be NFC-enabled and that NFC will facilitate transactions worth $74 billion.” (Chung, MoDo News)
Yet, a question that still seems to be cycling around the NFC grid is all of the possible reasons why NFC success is being held back. The possible reasoning for road blocks seems to be somewhat circular; phones are not equipped with NFC technology, retailers are not equipped with NFC ready POS equipment and the question remains of how consumers really feel about the service.
Yet, in the last few weeks more mobile operators have announced NFC ready devices and plans for Wallet systems. Just a few days ago Microsoft announcing their Window’s 8 Phone to be equipped with NFC technology, along with the Microsoft Wallet as part of a strategy for outstanding the competition.
While we anxiously await a wider spread deployment of NFC ready retailers and devices, it is interesting to consider how those in the mobile payments industry can influence and encourage consumer support of the technology. Hwan Chung, CEO at Danal Europe has some interesting thoughts.
Acknowledging that most people do not have handsets capable of contactless payments, and that the stores that accept NFC payments are few and far between, Chung positively comments that there are some operators that are starting to make notable leaps advancing the industry as a whole.
“We’re starting to see mobile operators like O2 in the UK, and Rogers Communications in Canada, announce plans to enable NFC payments. This is backed up by payment providers like Visa and PayPal, who are also getting in on the act.” (Chung)
Chung emphasizes that whilst this is great, it is important that consumer flexibility be strongly considered because customers will want to take the reins in terms of deciding how they pay for purchases.
“Little has been done to provide customers with the flexibility that they want to make payments – and that’s the main issue holding back the industry, not concerns about security or service availability.” (Chung)
Within the mobile payment industry it is important that there is a certain level of understanding that consumers do not want to be ordered to do things a certain way and the early stages of the mobile payment industry should focus more on offering new purchasing channels (with encouragement to try them of course) and then letting the consumer decide.
“If operators and payment providers continue to dictate how mobile payments are made, NFC will remain on the starting blocks.” (Chung)
Read more from MoDo News
Read more about the Microsoft Windows 8 Phone
Mobile applications and online platforms need to be optimized to tie together the in-store and user experience.
A recent article in Forbes, discussing the current retailer obsession with the “Digital Strategy” as the ticket to customer loyalty highlights that really the obsession with online & mobile; marketing, shopping and loyalty programs are an attempt to master customer relationships.
It is not doubt that retailer’s need to be “firing on all cylinders,” (specialty retail, mobile, social media, marketing, e-commerce) but really what ties everything together is the “in-store” shopping experience, which now more than ever, customers expect to be perfectly flawless.
The in-store shopping experience:
- Only an in-store experience can provide, the seeing, touching and feeling of a product, something that cannot be replaced by e-commerce
- Because of the economic crisis, people are shopping less, so a seamless shopping experience; that is fun, pleasurable and acts as an escape from reality is expected
- There should be a pull together of the real-word and online experience- with Mobile bridging a consistent brand experience across all channels
The Mobile and Online Shopping Experience should not be the ultimate solution, moreover, “Smart companies will find ways to use the mobile app as a “teaser” experience that drives the interested to the store, whether for a deeper experience or to buy. ”
Read the full article on some of the factors that enable brands to leverage in-store potential
Find out more about using mobile and online platforms to enhance your retail space and in-store user experience
We may only be in the early stages of NFC payment technology, but the market will continue to see rapid growth. The worldwide penetration of NFC payment availability was at 8% in 2011 but is expected to grow to 53% in 2017. According to Berg Insight; a firm specializing in premier business intelligence for the telecom industry, NFC enabled point of sale terminals will grow from 3.9m to 43.4m, by 2017; with the US seeing the highest density.
The large 2011 market growth is attributed to the nationwide roll out of previous NFC pilot projects.
“The rapid growth was driven by a transition in the NFC-payments ecosystem from performing trials to accelerating the rollout of NFC-ready payment infrastructure, in preparation for the arrival of NFC-based mobile payment services,” say the forecasters at Berg.
The capabilities of NFC enabled POS terminals affect not only the whole payment ecosystem but also other important business aspects such as customer service and marketing, some of the reasons NFC is such an attractive market.
“Mobile wallet services will create an unprecedented opportunity for retailers to interact with consumers in real-time while their purchasing decisions are being formed, for instance by delivering personalized offers in real-time while consumers are inside the shop”, says Lars Kurkinen, telecom analyst at Berg Insight.
The Berg Insight report concluded 2 major details:
- The emergence of mobile wallet services will be the most significant development in the payment industry in the preceding years.
- The value-added services such as coupons, loyalty cards and good planning will be integrated into the daily POS terminal to allow a seamless experience for consumers.
Read the Berg Insight Report Summary
Read the full article on NFC WORLD
A recent quarterly survey conducted by the eDigital Research organization in March 2012 surveyed 2,078 UK residents, both Smartphone and non-Smartphone owners, on their general knowledge and NFC technology usage.
The survey had a number of stimulating findings indicating that mainly there are still a high percentage of people who are not aware of what NFC technology is and those who may have heard of it may not be entirely sure how to use it.
The results specify that mainly it is the responsibility of those within the technology industry and retailers to work together to improve the general public’s knowledge of; what exactly NFC payments are, how they work, security features and the overall benefits; as ease and convenience were seen as the primary benefits while an astounding 32% of people surveyed did not see any benefits at all.
The good news is that those who do have an NFC enabled Smartphone and have tried the technology are likely to use it again. The survey found that “89% of those who had made a mobile contactless payment say they are likely to use the technology again in the near future,” (eDigital Research) demonstrating that the benefits of NFC payments are visible and will keep users coming back.
From a customer’s perspective as to what can be done to improve the situation three key recommendations were made:
- More information: 10.34% of consumers feel that more information is needed to help increase awareness.
- Better/Tighter security: 22.8% of respondents do not feel confident enough that there is enough security surrounding Contactless Mobile Payments.
- More pay points: 8.75% of respondents felt that the lack of available places where they could use Contactless Mobile Payments was holding back the technology. To improve, retailers and technology providers need to look at integrating more pay points around stores, as well as branching out to all locations.
What really is crucial in these findings is that the lack of knowledge consumers have about NFC payments in general most likely greatly impacts the number of people who are unsure whether NFC payments are secure or not. “This time around it’s up to retailers and technology providers to push for this next revolution of the market. People need to work together to increase consumer awareness, and in turn, settle fears and tackle key issues, such as security.” (Derek Eccleston, head of research at eDigitalResearch)
Read more about the results of the survey from eDigital research
Learn more about NFC payment technology including; security features, usage, benefits and opportunities
Last month PayPal unveiled its PayPal Payment solution which allows retailers to provide online and offline payments with a PayPal compatible POS system. Among the brands that will feature this service are: Abercrombie & Fitch, Advance Auto Parts, Aéropostale, American Eagle Outfitters, Barnes & Noble, Foot Locker, Guitar Center, Jamba Juice, JC Penney, Jos. A. Bank Clothiers, Nine West, Office Depot, Rooms To Go, Tiger Direct and Toys “R” Us. The large variety of brands adopting this technology emphasizes that in-store solutions are for retailers of all products and sizes.
PayPal’s solution ensures retailers do not need to install any complicated equipment, instead because PayPal has signed contracts with POS manufacturers Ingenico and more recently a contract signed with both VeriFone and Equinox, “the number one and number three point-of-sale terminal manufacturers in the world,” (David Marcus, President of PayPal writes on the company blog) ensures the technology is already integrated by the POS manufacturer.
PayPal emphasizes the need for retailers to engage with their customers at every point in the journey, or risk becoming irrelevant. The features of PayPal’s solution are that it provides customers with a better shopping experience, extends loyalty programs and allows retailers to engage and connect with clients on multiple channels.
“PayPal’s offline solutions are much more than just a way to pay. We’re helping merchants connect with consumers at every stage in the shopping cycle. Before they come into the store, while they’re in the store, or even after they’ve left. We’re able to drive consumers through a retailer’s doors with relevant offers, coupons and discounts, then maintain a relationship with that consumer that keeps bringing them back to the retailer, in store or online.” (David Marcus, PayPal Blog)
Read more about the features of the PayPal offline/POS solution
Read more about Mobile Shopping Solutions
The adoption of the Google Wallet system has been less than expected and now Google may be considering using an incentive to entice carriers to adopt the Google Wallet. This strategy could even include perks such as the sharing of Google Wallets revenue’s with telecom providers in the hopes of increasing the implementation of the service. (Engadget)
According to Bloomberg, Google is also considering moving towards the adoption of in store terminals, a feature of NFC payments that other E-Wallet providers have been working on since the get go.
But, while Google considers its strategy of approach for NFC payments, more cell phone manufacturers such as electronic giant Samsung are making the preparations for NFC payment technology with their own systems in mind. Samsung recently confirmed that the next flagship phone, the Galaxy S III will contain an embedded chip to support NFC payments.
The features of the Galaxy S III include; enhanced security features and both proximity and online payment systems, which could all be part of Samsung’s own Wallet strategy.
The system would likely support the already established NFC payment systems such as Visa’s V.me and the MasterCard PayPass, according to NFC Times.
Although the Galaxy III will contain an NFC chip, whether the embedded chip will be activated or not is still in question. In markets such as the US, the telecom providers may have the final say as to whether or not the feature will be enabled for use.
Samsung’s progress raises the discussion of whether other mobile manufacturers will adopt their own Wallet systems for NFC payments, perhaps in a way that can be better integrated with other existing NFC payment technology.
Read the Full Press Release from Samsung about the features of the Samsung Galaxy S III.
Read more about Bloombergs comments on the Google Wallet
All you have to do is “Tap & Go”…
In the next few months there will be an increase in the number of credit card and telecommunications companies enabling NFC payment technology for various Smartphones. In terms of market readiness for the “Tap & Go” payment feature, Canada is at the top of the list.
It’s no surprise though, because Canada has the right audience for this type of technology as Canadians are among the highest number of Smartphone owners worldwide. There are in addition several signature Canadian brands that have already enabled this type of payment technology.
Canada is seen to be an optimistic market for credit card companies such as MasterCard, as the receptiveness of Canadian’s to this type of technology is well known.
“Over 10% of MasterCard transactions in Canada are contactless, just waiting for smartphone enablement,” Ed McLaughlin, MasterCard’s chief emerging payments officer, said last week at a presentation during the International CTIA Wireless show in New Orleans.
MasterCard has recently certified four blackberry models for the Canadian market including the Blackberry Bold 9900 and 9790 and the Blackberry Curve 9360 and 9380.
Read more about the development of NFC payments in Canada
Read the release of guidelines for NFC payments in Canada
Read more about NFC
This service is up and running at the St. Lazarre Carrefour City location in Paris, the first of several stores to be equipped with the ‘Mon Panier’ retail NFC solution, in the next few weeks.
‘Mon Panier’ offers ample convenience’s for Carrefour City’s customers, who can now place an order and pay for purchases from the convenience of a Smartphone.
All you need to do is:
- Place the order from your Smartphone
- Within two hours the Carrefour City staff will have prepared the order
- Upon store arrival, just go to the ‘Mon Panier’ kiosk to identify yourself by either tapping your NFC mobile device to the kiosk screen with a built in NFC reader, or by placing the phone beneath the QR code reader on the bottom right of the kiosk
In addition, the ‘Mon Panier’ service, has no minimum purchase amount and no delivery or pick-up fees! It is a 100% free service!
Read more about the Carrefour City ‘Mon Panier’ shopping service.
“On May, 7 2012 Mastercard announced PayPass Wallet Services, a new global offering for banks, merchants and partners that will make it faster and easier for their customers to make purchases in stores or online by allowing them to securely pay with a simple click of the mouse, touch of the tablet screen or tap of the smartphone,” according to Mastercard’s press release.
The wallet is said to be launched in the third quarter in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Australia first, before the PayPass technology is extended elsewhere around the ‘globe’.
The differentiating characteristics of Mastercard’s PayPass from Visa’s V.me wallet is that it enables banks and merchants to customize their own digital wallets, so that Mastercard’s branding is not the primary focus of attention.
Additionally, Mastercard’s contactless and online payments will be launched under one brand whereas Visa is going to offer two brands, V.me wallet and Visa payWave.
Because over spending is a concern for PayPass users, Mastercard’s wallet will offer a variety of pro-consumer services including; account look-up before purchases, spending control and alerts and delivery of targeted offers coupons and loyalty programs.
Read the full press release about the features and benefits of the Mastercard PayPass
Read more about the difference between Visa V.me and the Mastercard PayPass
MasterCard is leading the way for credit card companies that support the PayPass application. Currently, several more Smartphones have been certified for use with the MasterCard PayPass technology. In total 17 Smartphones have been approved for this technological development. Some of the phones have knowingly had the Near Field Communications (NFC) technology such as the LG Viper 4G LTE and the Samsung Galaxy Nexus HSPA+, however new additions to the list of approved Smartphones include; BlackBerry Bold 9900 / 9790 and BlackBerry Curve 9360 / 9380.
“In the near future, millions of phones will ship with NFC technology embedded within them. The new PayPass Ready identifier will help consumers make informed device purchasing decisions by providing a visual mark that indicates devices are certified to make simple, smart and secure payments via the MasterCard PayPass network,” said Mung Ki Woo, group executive, Mobile at MasterCard.
Near field communication’s technology will allow customers to make secure, contactless payments at certified merchants around the world.
Read the full MasterCard press release for all of the details as well as the full list of Smartphones enabled for this technology.
Read more about the benefits of the MasterCard Pay Pass