Age of the Mobile Wallet and Beyond: Bring on the NFC Apps

In a survey posted by MasterCard earlier this year, 63 percent of participants age 18 to 34 told the company they essentially wanted their smartphone to replace their wallets. This is a major development for business as consumers are increasingly demanding the ability to make mobile payments. The question is, are you gearing up to be able to accept them?

The Samsung Nexus is the first phone to come equipped with Google Wallet, which is an Android app that stores credit card information and uses Near-Field Communications (NFC) to pay for goods, redeem points and share other types of information. The system works with MasterCard. Visa and iPhone have a similar venture going on in Europe.

The buzz in the tech world has been mounting over bringing NFC to the mainstream in the United States. It’s already old hat in Japan and some parts of Europe where consumers bump their phones to pay for a ride on the subway or purchase movie tickets.

Applications. Although making and receiving payments via the smartphone is an exciting new frontier for your business, it’s certainly not the only way NFC can make your shop run smoother.

Trade Shows. Imagine exhibiting at a conference and rather than lugging or shipping thousands of your own brochures, your booth visitors simply bump their smartphones. In one fell swoop they could automatically transmit their contact information to you and download your material in exchange.

If you’re running the show, the smartphone could eliminate the exorbitant expense of conference badges and automatically do the sorting of who belongs in what meeting and when. You would also have an automatic way of determining when you’re overcapacity and need overflow, and you could easily text room changes and cancellations.

Home/Office Security.  NFC can also extend to many of the security features you control via computer or landline phone. We’re thinking about operations like unlocking your home or garage or conducting access control at the office with the phone.

Social Media and App Development. Foursquare and Facebook’s location-based services have been experimenting with NFC technology for use in check-ins. If your small business runs an active social media program, you could enable NFC to pass along points, discounts and other rewards at the point of sale/transaction. And you could allow your customers to lend their own points to friends by bumping each other. Earlier this month RIM announced the NFC capabilities of two lines of BlackBerry and unveiled BlackBerry Tag, which allow users to bump phones and exchange data.

The app development potential is boundless at this point, from NFC-based purchases, ID and rewards point inventory management, social media integration, games and much, much more., The field is wide open for market leaders to step in and offer exciting and compelling new ways to help enhance customer’s shopping experience and to customize promotions and advertising directed at customers.  How will your business leverage this amazing new technology opportunity? Will you lead or follow?

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