Near Field Communication (NFC) wasn't a big topic at the Consumer Electronics Show, but it's still going to be a big force. The new mobile standard, which allows for sending secure data in a contactless and powerful way, is just beginning to make strides in the smartphone market.
And that momentum isn't going anywhere. The big push is for NFC to become a new payment standard at stores around the world. So whether you're walking into McDonald's or Macy's, you can pay for everything by sliding your phone instead of using a credit card.
The NFC Forum, which is the trade group for NFC technology, says to expect big things in the retail climate this year. A lot of advancements will be announced at the National Retail Federation (NRF) trade show in New York City next week.
"NFC technology is an enhancement to the payment experience that finally brings direct benefits to the retailer and the consumer alike. Our NFC Forum member solutions are at the vanguard of this revolution, and we look forward to sharing them with NRF attendees," said NFC Forum Director Debbie Arnold.
What's exciting about using your phone instead of a credit card is the application interface that can surround it. So retailers can offer special, user-targeted discounts. Banks can offer more tailored apps for individual customers. And there is the potential for other third-party payment providers to come on board. Until now, paying at the stores was either with cash or some sort of bank-involved form of plastic, check, or financing. NFC can turn that traditional choice on its head.
In addition, in the future, you'll be able to apply for a credit card and not even need to wait for it to come in the mail. The possibilities are boundless.
So while it was not a big point of discussion at CES, which usually predicts what the entire consumer electronics industry will be focused on for the entire year, expect to start seeing NFC really take off in 2012.