Last year Google announced its mobile Wallet initiative and partnered up with companies like MasterCard Inc. and Citigroup Inc. to embed technology into Android mobile phones that would allow customers to make purchases by tapping their phones over an NFC-enabled point-of-sale system.
Other companies have since followed suite, and the market for mobile payments is growing significantly, with numbers around $618 billion by 2016, according to an Edgar, Dunn & Co. report.
Of course, before the technology truly takes off in a global and ubiquitous way, many believe firms will have to think seriously about the business model structures they plan to use. With banks, mobile operators, transport companies, and retailers all wanting a slice of the NFC pie, thereís little doubt the technology will see its fair share of service complexity issues, too.
For example, if phones are now also wallets, who would one call to report a theft? Oneís bank or the mobile operator?
With many opportunities but also still many questions about NFC and its growing role, we took to the MWC show floor to get a bigger picture of what the technology could do. Take a look:
No need to implant a chip--we all have a fingerprint. Several years ago I asked a technology expert at fingerprint-sensor manufacturer why credit-card companies didn't use a finger scanner at checkouts and point-of-sale terminals. He answered that it would cost more to install them and maintain the databases than to have enough reserve cash to cover fraud. So I guess we must continue to use PINs for a while longer.
John: I like your idea of the thumb print for ease of use. However, I wonder how the cost would compare to get something that is cheap enough to be installed all over the place, but safe enough to prevent somebody from lifting a finger print and using some simple techniques to transfer it onto something stuck on a perpetrator's finger. The 16-year-old minding the cash register probably won't be paying that close attention.
Rob: Any idea of how those eye scanner would work with those of use with glasses - especially with "more robust" perscriptions? At first look, I'm not a fan of anything but medical equipment shining in my eyes.
Good point, Jon. Actually, eye recognition may be easier ultimately than fingerprints. Yet I still think the current system with a PIN is very efficient. I'm not convinved a new system can improve on the current system to a degree that warrants a massive switch in technology. Paying at the register current takes just a few seconds. Do we need to trim if from 18 seconds to 12 seconds?
I agree, Apresher, the market will decide. While the technology may now be embedded in a a number of smartphone brands, retailers would have to adopt the technology on a wide scale. Some retailers are testing it, but to reach critical mass, it would need to be hundreds of thousands of retailer outlets. Consumers won't accpet it until it fiarly ubiquitous.
What I don't get is what it saves in time or energy. You still have to select your card or checking acount. You still have to engage in some form of security (pin or signature). It seems that ending the swipe function is not enougha big enough change to warrant a wholesale revamp of technology.