At the end of 2010, the predictions made by Forrester were that Near Field Communication (NFC) would start to come into its own in 2011, though they had noted that it would be far from mainstream by the close of this year.
Now that it’s a year later, the predictions are starting to come in for next year, and this year’s use of NFC is starting to be reexamined in order to make the forecasts. In 2011, it has been estimated that between 35 and 40 million smartphones enabled with NFC have been shipped worldwide. Many of the top mobile manufacturers shipped devices with NFC, though Apple is the most notable exception to that rule.
Although this does look promising for the future, it should still be recognized that overall, only a very small percentage of the overall mobile device shipments include NFC capabilities. In fact, less than 1 percent of mobile device owning consumers have a product that includes NFC.
This has left many retailers wondering if it will be worth their while to invest in the point of sale (POS) reader products for NFC, considering that they can be very expensive, and the number of shoppers that use the technology may not be there yet. It is likely that this type of contactless payment service will take a few more years to become mainstream – though pilot programs are popping up here and there.
Equally, contactless payment is not the only benefit available from NFC. Currently, marketers believe that the true value to the technology is that occurring before and after the purchase of the product; for example, providing consumers with discount coupons, loyalty points, and other types of rewards relating to their purchase.