The mobile industry is famous for predictions of the next big thing which do not come true. For several years, before the introduction of touch screen smartphones, we were confidently told that ‘this will be the year of 3G’. Indeed this happened so frequently that I believe the ‘year of 3G’ actually lasted almost a decade.
In a similar vein, Near Field Communications or NFC has been lauded for several years as the next big thing. Take a look at this report from February 2011, or this one from 2013. NFC is finally starting to come into the mainstream within payment cards at places such as Pret A Manger and Marks & Spencer, although this has not come without its issues.
The increase in the number of retailers looking to provide contactless payments will no doubt ignite the debate around NFC on the mobile phone once again, either as a means of access (either ticketing or building access) or a means of payment for goods. The GSM Association in particular continues to extol the virtues of NFC in mobile, although not always with incredible success (see the first point in this article).
The concept of a mobile wallet however is a sound one, as long as measures to overcome mobile fraud can be assured. It is a great theory having your front door key, wallet and work access pass all embedded on the mobile phone – right up to the point it goes wrong.
Mobile phones do tend to come equipped with a pass code that can be activated by the user. Whilst many users activate these (although perhaps less than you might expect) to secure their phone, an NFC enabled mobile device, especially one that could incorporate a number of credit and debit cards, needs to have a higher level of security to reassure the user against misuse.
Over the next few articles we will be outlining some of the security and anti fraud measures that could be considered to make NFC less liable for abuse.
One thing is for sure, for NFC to succeed, these measures will need to be simple and effective. The fraudsters will already be working on scams to exploit the growth in NFC.