Across the pond in Europe, NFC mobile payments are not a thing of the future. In recent years, trials have been carried out in Poland, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Spain. The six-month trial in Spain is one of the most documented and successful trials with 1,500 consumers and 500 merchants participating. With more than 80 percent positive feedback, conclusions could be made that with increased sales and almost universal acceptance, the desire to continue using the new payment method after the trial also increased.
While most people assume NFC means mobile payments, this “contactless” technology offers many other possibilities that will become popular among device manufacturers:
In Switzerland, customers equipped with NFC phones let themselves into unmanned farm shops (which are common in the region) using their mobile phones. Then they would touch the RFID price tag on each product and later touch their phone to a checkout tag to complete the purchase.
For several years, travelers in London could use the “Oyster” card based on RFID. Although studies attest considerable savings, the city is still slow to update to NFC. The 2012 Olympics might just give London the push they need to jump on board with mobile payments. Also, Lisbon did a small test with 25 users, analyzing the potential of technology in the city.
New experiences are available to us thanks to NFC-capable phones. Now, pointing your device at a poster will result in that information on your phone. Frankfurt held a six-month trial using posters placed in the underground railway. Finland devised a game based on reading these 2-D points on posters.
In fact, promotion for the X-Men movie was based on the distribution of “smart” posters in London, which enabled NFC\’s early adopters to download an exclusive trailer of the movie just by “touching” the poster with their mobile device.
This use case is nothing new since both employee access to their company\’s building, or doors within hotels, already use RFID and contactless technology. The innovative part is that instead of having to collect a key or carry an extra card, the access is given via our phone. Sweden has tested an idea that would eliminate the check-in process at the desk and use your mobile phone to access your room.
In Spain, Telefonica has already implemented a system that gives their employees access not only to their building and parking, but also allows small payments in the canteen. The operator plans to extend the application to all employees and expand to local surroundings. Something very similar was done with T-Mobile when they ran a small pilot test in their Czech Republic office.
The use of coupons and loyalty cards are a great marketing tool, but the user ends up having to carry all of these items with them, resulting in bulky wallets. NFC promises to lighten the load and carry all of this digitally. Several companies have moved in that direction. In Italy, Fashion Miroglio allows its customers to collect and check points balance using their loyalty cards on their phone. In Ireland, the Insomnia coffee chain also relies on NFC to improve their customers\’ experience.
This service is already being used in France with Orange. Business customers who purchase a Samsung S5230 NFC phone for their staff can utilize a Mobile et Badge, which tracks the time and attendance of security staff, cleaners, etc. When a worker arrives at the desired location, they tap “I have arrived” in the application, which sends a confirmation to supervisors. When an employee ends his task, tap “I\’m leaving” and it sends the confirmation message again.
Similar services are being developed in the UK for home care services.
As we can see, Europe has been implementing NFC technology for several years, but it hasn\’t quite taken off yet. Governments like France are betting very strongly in this development, creating cities based on NFC. For example, the city of Nice has different “contactless” services available to users, such as information services, transportation, loyalty points and, of course, mobile payments. It also offers the possibility for small business owners to be a part of this movement by encouraging them to use NFC and loyalty cards, and accept contactless payments. Now we can only hope that mobile phone manufacturers offer more NFC devices and users are willing to change their devices to start a new world of possibilities.