NFC Technology – the next big thing?

Industry experts forecast that mobile payments will exceed US5 billion by 2014. NFC is predicted to be the most-used solution for mobile payments, with global transactions to jump over US$ 150 billion.

Micropayment services are expected to go mainstream, with many companies jostling for space. The marketplace is rife with new collaborations and partnerships between heavy players like Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover.

Since there is hype generated by the newly-launched Near Field Communication (NFC) system, which allows contactless payments via mobile phone handsets to NFC-capable transmitters, financial service institutions are making plans to include this latest technology in their offerings.

NFC has been on the market for nearly a decade, although the driving force for its implementation now is due to contactless mobile payments. This is further motivated by consumer and organizational interest in NFC technology, and cooperation within the different industries involved is paving the way – from the ‘innovator’ phase and trial development, all the way to its first commercial roll out.

These advancements are intensified by M&A and Alliance activities between telecommunications providers, IT companies, and financial service institutions – all of which are trying to adapt NFC-capable systems.

VeriFone, a global leader in secure electronic payment solutions has announced the acquisition of Hypercom, the secure electronic payment and digital transaction provider at approximately US5 million to accelerate its global expansion and success in key markets outside the U.S.. Immediately prior to the completion of this deal France-based Ingenico is expected to close a deal with Hypercom’s U.S. business. The acquisition is seen as a major step of Ingenico to accelerate the adoption of NFC technology as well as make a bid for the US market.

Not to be left buy imitrex injection online behind is MasterCard, working together with Gemalto, on its newest NFC payment system, PayPass. The system allows consumers to track transaction history as well as define a mobile PIN code of their choice. MasterCard is already working with Obopay, Interligo, Smart Communications, and Guarantee Bank.

Visa, on the other hand, is working together with Samsung and planning to bring NFC technology to the London Olympics in 2012, via handsets with Visa-enabled SIM cards. As of now, there are already 60,000 locations in London where contactless payments are accepted. Visa has also rolled out its mobile payments in countries such as Australia, Canada, Brazil, France, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Italy, Singapore, the US, and Turkey.

It doesn’t end there, other companies predicted to jump on the NFC bandwagon are Apple with its iPhone 5, Amazon, with its Appstore for the Android and eBay (via PayPal), since it signed a partnership with Verifone for its PAYware mobile application.

It is clear that NFC can be used in a variety of ways. But there are still challenges in its implementation. An influx of new mobile operators, alternative payment providers, and online players is expected. This can cause confusion on the consumer site and lead to market fragmentation. Hence, companies and financial service firms are challenged by the need to educate consumers about NFC methodology, and to come up with a unified approach that will enable global interoperability.

Although there remain many challenges before the technology will have its breakthrough, NFC is here – and may possibly reshape the way consumers and companies deal with transactions, access, and identification.