HCE – The boost NFC needs?

NFC has been around a while, since 1983 to be precise. But it's not been until the last few years that it has really entered into everyday use. With the results from WorldPay that in April it processed £50m worth of contactless payments in the UK, consumers are clearly open to the idea of tapping to pay – just not yet with their mobile, writes Billy Bambrough

NFC has been around a while, since 1983 to be precise. But it’s not been until the last few years that it has really entered into everyday use. With the results from WorldPay that in April it processed £50m worth of contactless payments in the UK, consumers are clearly open to the idea of tapping to pay – just not yet with their mobile, writes Billy Bambrough

Mobile payments haven’t caught the imagination of consumers in the way that many thought they would. On paper it seems ideal – no loyalty cards crowding your wallet, location based offers, shorter queuing times, and stores using information to provide better service and save customers money. It’s win-win for everyone. So why is no one using it?

I believe the problem ultimately lies with the industry, not the consumer. People often say that the industry will provide it when customers want it and that customers will want it once the industry provides it. In reality, customers will always have to be given a small shove to get them onto any new service or product. Customers are willing to adopt, as we can see from contactless cards, but it is the industry that is stuck in limbo not knowing where to turn with NFC.

The reason for this uncertainness is almost entirely down to Apple’s avoidance of NFC. The general consensus before the announcement of the last iPhone was that if it didn’t contain NFC then NFC was finished. Now, nine months later, the same thing is being said again – NFC has lived to see another iPhone.

While a company that is arguably the most influential company in technology today remains removed from the technology, convincing others that it is the way to go will be an impossible task.

HCE has done a lot to remove some of the problems people had with NFC, the unnecessary inclusion of telecos for one thing, but none of these were ever really the problem. While HCE does improve NFC it doesn’t remove alternatives. Beacon technology is getting a lot of interest, with St. George Bank in Australia rolling it out in branch and with Apple firmly onboard through its iBeacon, this could be where the industry eventually falls.

Uncertainly is the only certain way to kill a market and right now the future of mobile payments couldn’t be in more doubt.