Near Field Communications is so hot right now. In simple terms it refers to smartphones that can communicate with other phones or smart gadgets such as payment terminals. But why should you care? This is why:
The phrase 'Near Field Communications' (NFC) is about as buzzy as it gets. The technology is new and exciting and only a selection of handsets are capable of interacting using its technology. But it has the potential to become the future of mobile payments.
In no time at all, our mobile phones have become the centre of our individual universes. We rely on them to communicate, do business, discover information and much else. Now they are about to become even more important, when they also evolve into payment devices.
NFC allows your phone to collect or transmit data to another NFC-enabled device. It's a bit like Bluetooth, but with the added bonus that it can be a vehicle for mobile payments.
Simply put, it can be used anywhere that people pay for items by 'swiping' credit or debit cards. Instead of delving into your wallet for a card you will soon be able to pay for public transport, supermarkets shopping and cinema tickets instantly with your phone.
Simply hold your phone within a couple of centimetres of a NFC-enabled terminal and the data transfer happens automatically. Unlike Bluetooth NFC doesn't need to be turned on - it can happen with a mere tap of your handset.
NFC can be used like QR codes to present people with extra information on leaflets, business cards and the like. Scan your NFC-enabled phone over the NFC code on a poster, say, and be presented with additional digital detail.
It can also transfer information between phones. BlackBerry Tag enables effortless 'tap to share' exchanges of multimedia content and contact information between friends. Friends can also add each other as BlackBerry Messenger contacts with a simple 'tap'.
Blending real-world and social media interactions, companies are developing software that allows people to swap social media profiles by touching their phones together. Each person's status is updated with an alert of the meeting and location details are updated.
Credit card companies and big technology firms like Google and Amazon are in a race to develop cardless proximity payments (NFC's short rage of just a few centimetres makes it a top candidate for secure transactions).
The technology is not widely available but consumers will not have to wait long for the range of handsets to grow and for NFC-related opportunities to bear fruit. Ready for debit cards to be a thing of the past?
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