Match Made in Heaven: NFC and Mobile Technology

Near-field communications, or NFC, promises some remarkable innovations for business and consumers with a number of applications you should be able to take advantage of right away.

A Primer

NFC is a type of short-range radio frequency identification (RFID) technology. It enables device-to-device data transfers, payments and a host of other business solutions. The device of choice is the smartphone. That’s what the major smartphone makers are betting on anyway. Google has added NFC support in Android. Samsung’s new Nexus S handset has NFC capability, and reports of Apple’s integration of NFC into the next iteration of the iPhone continue to mount.

The big picture is that you and your customers will be able to use your iPhone or Android to participate in loyalty and social media programs, share business cards and sign up for and receive various other types of information..

The real excitement around the NFC–mobile union, however, is the ability to make and receive payments.  All of this can be accomplished by simply passing your phone near a reader. Phones can act as both a tag and the RFID interrogator.

Ready for Primetime

In the coming months, we’ll likely see a number of applications for smartphone NFC use in the small business arena. One of the classic arguments against NFC is what happens if you lose your phone. Businesses do not need to use this as an excuse to avoid the technology; NFC data are encrypted and the ability to siphon someone’s private data requires proximity of less than four inches. Some NFC renderings will also require use of a PIN, and when linked with credit card processors, offer the same $0 liability as the credit card company.

The point is, NFC is not just some obscure technology that only large enterprises can take advantage of. With use of smartphones peaking, the onus is on business to explore ways to take advantage of their convenience and ubiquity to develop closer and deeper relationships with their clients with applications designed to make the consumer’s experience quicker, more convenient, and more data-centric.

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