9th December 2010

Near Field Communication (NFC) makes widespread Wireless Payments a reality

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This week brings the release of the latest version of Android on Google’s new flagship device; the “Nexus S“. Android 2.3 (nicknamed Gingerbread) brings with it a slew of new features, but it is one in particular that is really catching people’s attention: Near Field Communication (NFC).

NFC allows mobile devices that incorporate the technology within their hardware, to interact with special sensors around the world, passing data and information within a range of around 4cm. The technology works in a very similar way to Oyster Cards in London and Barclaycard’s Contactless Credit Cards, and could revolutionise the way we pay for a range of objects.

At Creode we have worked a lot on incorporating the latest tech into mobile devices to support our clients. We have incorporated 2D Barcode Ticketing into Mobile Phones, and linked Bluetooth Scanners up to iPad’s for barcode reading to allow venue entry. Whilst this technology itself has continued to progress rapidly since our early days of working with it, and uptake at an all time high, there continues to be two main issues with it for our clients:

  • Payment must be made prior to an event by another means (usually debit/credit card) for you to receive your barcode ticket.
  • Payment on the door still uses old means of entry such as Cash payment.
NFC use in Japan

NFC use in Japan

NFC could completely revolutionise the event ticking industry in which we are heavily involved. Imagine a scenario where you could potentially have a ticketless, cash free event with payment for entry being made either on the door, or up front by an alternative method. Customers could purchase a “ticket” through the Promoter’s website, linking a mobile device to their order through it’s phone number or alternative ID. They would then simply scan their phone at the venue to gain entry to the event. Alternatively, if they wish to make payment on the door, the very same scanner would recognise their device has no ticket linked to it and take instant payment, debiting the ticket value from their bank account.

Whilst Google’s Nexus S is the first widely publicised usage of this technology in the UK, and only initially supports tag reading (not instant payments, which are due later), it is reported that the new iPhone and the majority of future Android will incorporate NFC into it’s hardware. It is also a technology that has been proven to work very successfully in other countries for many years. In Japan for example, you can make payment for travel tickets, at vending machines and in stores for a huge variety of goods. Their literal translation of the technology is “cellphone wallet”.

We will be keeping a keen eye on how this technology develops and whether it becomes a mainstay of UK payment culture over the next few years.