NFC: Will they or won’t they?

Debate over the future of mobile commerce has once again risen to the fore of industry news with rumors of another industry giant, Microsoft, introducing NFC technology to its latest Windows Phone 7.

My recent blog post discussed the rumors of Apple iPhone’s 5 to include NFC capabilities, and these reports were swiftly followed by gossip declaring that, on the contrary, Apple may not be including NFC in its latest phone – along with further rumors of Google moving forward with testing its NFC service! What a couple of weeks!

Bearing in mind that most of these reports are based on nothing but rumors, everything we think we know about the mobile payments landscape may purely be speculation.

The industry is understandably tripping over itself to second-guess the future of mobile payments, but all this might be achieving is to further fuel the chaos surrounding an already fragmented mobile landscape. As a result, the practical implementation of NFC or any other kind of mobile payments technology into consumers’ daily lives may prove to be far from what predictions are currently suggesting.

Indeed, the industry has gone overboard in searching for answers to what manufacturers and carriers are doing in regards to mobile payments services – but what care has really gone into analyzing what consumers are demanding and what businesses are doing in regards to mobile payments and NFC?

Consumers are clearly increasingly demanding, but specifically what matters most to them – security, convenience, cost savings? Do they really want NFC technology – and more importantly, do they even know what it is?

Also, do we know what, if anything, businesses – retailers in particular – are doing in preparation for this new breed of ‘wave and pay’ commerce, and whether these advances in NFC technology already affect retailers’ business strategies? Most importantly, does the current level of retailers’ preparedness on mobile payments match up to consumer expectations?

Mobile is undoubtedly beginning to seriously affect consumer shopping behavior. Ultimately, businesses must ensure that their investment in mobile strategies caters to rapidly advancing mobile technologies, as well as being aligned with consumer demand – regardless of when and, if at all, industry giants decide to implement NFC technology into their devices.

David Eads leads Product Marketing for Kony, the mobile commerce platform vendor. David is a mobile commerce veteran and was the founder of consulting firm Mobile Strategy Partners in 2009. As a blogger and frequent industry speaker, David has been interviewed about mobile for national media outlets like Mobile Commerce Daily, Marketplace on NPR, Inc Magazine, The Toronto Star, and The Christian Science Monitor. Additionally, David also has a decade of technical experience developing enterprise software systems in Java and other languages for UNIX, Windows, and other systems.