Apple’s latest update will incorporate NFC-technology, which will help propel the United States into industry standards that are common across most other civilized nations. Apple gear-heads are fanatical about their iPhones, often waiting in lines for several hours to purchase an updated handset (even if the technology is still in Beta). Fortunately for iPhone fans, the iPhone 5 will offer NFC (near-field communication) technology that is popular in most parts of the world outside of the United States, which explains why Korean technology giant Samsung has already incorporated such ideas in their Galaxy III and other devices.
NFC is an important innovation at this moment in history as it is already changing the way people pay for small things on the go. Near-Field Communication is the technology behind things like MasterCard’s PayPass option, but the latest updates in this field are so much more powerful. The new wave of mobile devices, then, should help to usher in a new era of technology that puts the United States on par with the rest of the world.
As Roger Kay, principal analyst with Endpoint Technologies puts it:
The United States is behind other developed regions in this infrastructure. It’s a matter of standards. The Japanese railway standardized on Mobile FeliCa (owned by a consortium of Japanese companies), and everybody uses it. In Europe, they went a different way, dividing up among regional carriers. Over here, we’re still arguing about it.
In light of this, he concludes that
the situation is ripe for someone to come in and make the whole transaction seamless. That’s a tall order, and one reason it hasn’t been done until now. However, its right in line with what Apple does…
Going back to MasterCard, Mung Ki Woo, senior Vice President and group executive of the mobile department for MasterCard, attests that an NFC-enabled iPhone will definitely help move things along. On the other hand, he says, the lack of such a device has not slowed NFC technology development down. He says people have come more accustomed to the idea that phones can serve many purposes, other than conversation. In a statement in eWeek he reported that when you combine consumer maturity with their smartphones and their relative with online shopping, it is easy to conclude that the next generation of phones will have NFC technology.
Of course, it is very easy to see the important of such technology when you examine that MasterCard and Everything Everywhere (the largest mobile operator in the UK) recently announced an exclusive, five year plan to develop MasterCard’s new mobile payment solutions for all of their 27 million network subscribers. One of the first products they are slated to release is an NFC-based prepaid product for use in the United Kingdom.
Marion King, president of MasterCard in U.K. and Ireland, said
As the use of cash continues to decline, we will be able to provide Everything Everywhere’s (subscribers) with an attractive range of new payment services backed by the processing power and security of MasterCard.
This is extremely important, especially for consumers that are still on the fence about the efficacy, efficiency, and security mobile payment platforms.
As development in this field is still quite young, Apple (et al) are able to learn from the mistakes and progress made in the early market. MasterCard’s Woo concludes:
What is important is that the service has to be richer than the equivalent of a plastic card. That sounds so natural, but sometimes we forget that we have to make it much richer.
Indeed, what consumers want is a more pleasant, streamlined payment experience that becomes more reliable and comfortable than that of using the all-too-familiar plastic option.