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Thursday, January 31, 2013

NFC Forum SIGs map tech future

In a Jan. 24, 2013, webinar hosted by the NFC Forum, the forum's director, Debbie Arnold, said near field communication- (NFC) based mobile contactless payments is on the verge of ubiquity now that it has met major milestones in specifications and certification. The job now of the NFC Forum is to develop new uses for the technology across devices and platforms. "No other organization is positioned to support market implementation efforts," she said in the webinar entitled NFC Goes Vertical: Introducing NFC Forum Special Interest Groups.

The NFC Forum, a non-profit industry association promoting NFC technology in consumer electronics, mobile devices and PCs, is focused on mapping out the future of NFC technology through its Special Interest Groups (SIGs). The webinar, moderated by Arnold, introduced the five new SIGs that represent payments, retail, transportation, health care and consumer electronics. The five chairs of the SIGs then discussed opportunities in each of the market segments.

Payments at the heart of NFC

Arnold said research shows NFC will be the most-used mobile payment solution by 2015 and that a quarter of U.S. consumers will pay in-store with NFC-enabled devices by 2017. She noted that NFC technology on mobile phones allows new payment, event and ticketing options while delivering features such as reading product information, distributing coupons, delivering health care instructions and relaying transportation timetables. NFC also allows devices to connect and share information with laptops, printers, cameras and televisions.

James Anderson, Senior Vice President of Mobile Development at MasterCard Worldwide and Vice President at the NFC Forum, is Chair of the Payment SIG. He said payments is at the core of many use cases in other verticals, but that "NFC and payment are overly linked in the minds of many people."

The Payment SIG presents an opportunity for members of the industry to form new partnerships in payments. Anderson noted his SIG is working with EMVCo LLC, the association promoting chip-based credit and debit cards; PTCRB, the certification forum for North American cellular operators; and the Global Certification Forum Ltd., which certifies mobile phones and wireless devices.

The Payment SIG is also developing education programs with GSMA, an international organization of mobile network operators; the Smart Card Alliance; Global Platform Inc., an organization creating specifications for deploying applications on secure chip technology; and the Mobey Forum Mobile Financial Services Ltd., a group working on developing a secure, scalable infrastructure for mobile financial services offered by financial institutions.

The SIG is using these alliances to address payment issues, such as ensuring consumer confidence; keeping payment at the core of value-added services; and answering questions about technology deployment. Members of the SIG will meet with banks next quarter to talk about NFC implementation, Anderson promised.

NFC is two-way technology that can be used as a consumer device or a merchant device and is being rapidly adopted for that reason. Anderson said he is excited about the potential of the technology. "It feels like we are at a pivotal point to get NFC to be a mass consumer phenomenon," he said.

Retail SIG promotes versatility

Arnold said the Retail SIG will promote the many ways NFC can be deployed to create benefits for all parties in marketing and operations. Consumers using NFC will make faster payments and receive coupons, loyalty offers and receipts automatically. Manufacturers can do shelf and item tagging, authentication and brand protection, and provide nutritional information, expiration dates and recall notifications using NFC codes.

Members of the Retail SIG will meet with merchants, banks and advertisers in the spring of 2013 to discuss NFC implementation issues, Arnold said.

The Retail SIG, she added, plans to develop educational programs with the National Retail Federation; GS1, a supply chain standards organization that provides a framework for electronic delivery of product and coupon information; and the Smart Card Alliance. The SIG is also working with GS1 to ensure mutual technology is supported.

Arnold said the Retail SIG emphasizes educating advertisers so advertising clients will know what they can do to create new NFC-based marketing programs. end of article

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