Monday, 22 November 2010

Contactless payments by mobile phone could become mainstream in 2011

Something odd happened in the past couple of years. Everyone stopped asking whether it’s the year of the mobile. That’s probably because mobile has now become mainstream and with the mainstream comes the tsunami of innovation, not least in the financial services sector.

This week Nokia announced that they were making a huge move in the mobile payments market to move closer to contactless payments with the launch of their C7 phone in 2011. The rumours are that the Near Field Communications (NFC) technology required are also appearing in patents being filed by Apple for the new generation iPhone and in addition Eric Schmidt, Google’s CEO has also announced that they working with NFC technology for the android platform. So does this mean an era of contactless payments may be just around the corner?

Alex Kwiatkowski - Principal Analyst in Ovum's Financial Services Technology Team voiced some doubts stating that 'While the ecosystem is evolving, old concerns (10+ years) over a viable business model for sustainable/decent revenue remain' he went on to say 'Nokia pulled its 6216 device (using NFC & SWP) in Feb '10, due to current state of NFC ecosystem and poor consumer experience.' So Nokia definitely have some credibility issues when it comes to the technology and with Symbian still performing so poorly, the issue is compounded.

However as always with Google and Apple in the frame the play becomes more serious from a software perspective and with Nokia’s ability to flood the market with low cost hardware, the battle could be fought on two fronts.

Ecosystem and revenue concerns there may be, but with 3 such massive players making a play and a whole host of bit part players around the edges, you get the impression that there must be something in it. Personally, the sooner I can get rid of my wallet the better so I’m hoping we’re not far away.

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