NFC set to take over the world

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Your mobile is your new wallet. That’s been a key message running for at least a year now, but adoption has still been crawling at a snail’s pace. At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, it seems that the tech world and the financial world are looking to reawaken things. Will these announcements have an impact?

Arguably the biggest announcement in the world of Near Field Communications (NFC) is the newly formed strategic alliance between Intel and Visa.

Visa & Intel partnership to boost NFC - Orange first to deliver powered smartphones to Europe

During a press conference at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the companies outlined plans to collaborate to ensure consumers enjoy a consistent, streamlined, secure mobile commerce experience across Intel Atom-based smartphones and tablets – an Orange-branded handset, currently code-named Santa Clara will be the first device in Europe to benefit.

The Intel Smartphone Reference Device will host the Visa payWave payment application and features NFC technology.

When used in combination with a Visa-compliant UICC, smartphones based on the Intel Smartphone Reference Device handset can be enabled to connect to Visa's mobile provisioning service providing financial institutions and mobile operators the means to securely download Visa payment account information and the Visa payWave application "over the air" to a secure chip on an NFC-equipped smartphone.

Olympic opportunity

This will be ready for the forthcoming London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, which Visa is sponsoring and has created an app in conjunction with fellow sponsor Samsung.

The application will handle contactless payments at the point of sale, based on Visa’s payWave technology, and are covered by the same terms and conditions that apply to Visa cards. The main difference is that purchases above £15 (about $24) require a passcode.

These key developments could see Visa entering into the NFC fore more and enabling enterprises to advance their curiousity around this advancing innovation.

mobile wallets set to explode

Not to miss out, MasterCard is also expanding its partner base. DeviceFidelity announced at the Mobile World Congress 2012 in Barcelona that the patented In2Pay iCaisse4 is the first NFC-based mobile payment solution for the iPhone 4S and iPhone 4 that has been certified by MasterCard.

This approval means that the In2Pay iCaisse4 with In2Pay v2.8 microSD supplied with MasterCard PayPass M/Chip 4 applet combination can be provisioned by banks or wireless operators worldwide to be used in connection with MasterCard Mobile PayPass-enabled mobile wallets. Orange UK’s NFC offering, QuickTap, works on this type of scheme, in conjunction with Barclaycard.

handset manufacturers ready for the challenge

Indeed, most of the handset manufacturers have been keen to stress that NFC is a noticeable capability on their new launches.

In its new life without Ericsson, Sony has shown its hand at NFC, by signing a deal with Gemalto to provide FeliCa/near field communication (NFC) solutions globally.

Under the agreement, Gemalto will incorporate FeliCa software technology into its UpTeq NFC SIM product line-up, starting in 2012, offering mobile operators and service providers a more comprehensive range of mobile NFC services globally.

Over in the US, Isis, the forthcoming nationwide m-commerce network spearheaded by Verizon Wireless, AT&T and T-Mobile USA, will begin mobile wallet trials in mid-2012 with three card services partners: Chase, Capital One and Barclaycard. It used the Congress to announce the partnerships, stating that consumers can load eligible credit, debit and prepaid cards to Isis Mobile Wallet when trials begin in Salt Lake City and Austin, Texas, later this year.

Clearly times are a changing and NFC is set to boom in the coming year – click here to watch a series of videos of one blogger’s experience of testing it out at the Congress itself.

We've created this infographic on NFC applications to introduce you to some of our ideas. Please free to republish it on your blog, just make sure you credit us!

The question is: Are you ready to take the leap of faith into investing in the NFC sphere?

Nicolas Jacquey
Joe Fernandez

Joe Fernandez is a technology writer and blogger for Futurity Media. As a journalist, he was an editor on Computer Weekly and Microscope magazines and worked as a deputy editor for Marketing Week and its sister title Pitch covering online marketing and social media developments. Joe has also appeared in titles including New Media Age, Guardian Computing, Computing Magazine, The Inquirer and Mobile Magazine.