Forget your wallet and cash, the future has arrived – Mobile money is here.
Near field communication technology (NFC) is now moving rapidly towards widespread adoption. Well, almost – if recent announcements, media buzz and consumer anticipation is anything to go by, the signs are encouraging:
- Google is set to unveil plans for a mobile payment platform using NFC
- Orange and Barclaycard launched QuickTouch the UK’s first NFC payment system
- O2 announced key financial partners for their NFC strategy
- Nice became Europe’s first city to embrace NFC under a city wide integrated pilot
- 6Starz launched using NFC for check-in, social networking and coupon reclaim
I have been reflecting on what all this might mean for social and have speculated on some of the bigger themes:
- Trust - Building social trust around NFC payment devices will be crucial to drive adoption. Using social networks to explain and overcome these issues will be critical, along with social incentives to trial devices. How would Groupon integrate NFC services and would a coupon be enough to trial?
- Content – Imagine the opportunities for sharing content in a NFC gated world like Glastonbury for example, where your whole festival experience is shaped through the social and payment lens of your mobile phone. Or perhaps simply enabling NFC smart posters or objects to reveal and share exclusive content.
- Community – NFC could potentially be a boon for smaller retailers like restaurants and bars, as a method of rejuvenating intelligent engagement with their customer base. By combining NFC check in data and social networks to build small loyal local communities, brands will be able to link their real and virtual worlds more effectively.
- Loyalty: The key opportunity here is to reinvent loyalty cards via NFC enabled devices. Why carry loyalty cards when you have your NFC enabled phone? Better still, how could your loyalty history be integrated alongside a social network feed that shares your product reviews and brand likes? Social CRM meets NFC.
- Social shopping – Imagine tagging that suit or dress to your NFC enabled wish list and sharing with friends, or seeing where that dress appeared in other media so that you can match it to other items. NFC enabled clothes are real and will transform in-store browsing, making the shopping experience truly social.
- Services – This is where the real demand will be created – a rich service ecosystem that can offer consumers a real reason to get involved and participate. Imagine public and health services that are NFC enabled, like remote patient management or a self monitoring diet/exercise plan through a large food retailer and gym network.
- ROI – The true value of NFC will be bridging the gap between the virtual and the real. Forget likes – old fashioned retail footfall combined with engagement metrics will be the true test of NFC strategies.
O2 and Barclaycard told the Financial Times that they “hope mobile payments will become as popular as credit cards, first launched in the UK 40 years ago.” This is a lofty ambition that will take time and investment.
When credit cards launched in the 1950’s with the Diners Club Card the social element was hard wired into the proposition, via the physical status display – having one and using it in social situations like paying for dinner. NFC adoption will need to be similar. Early adopters will need to demonstrate usage and the social appeal of devices and services; the rest will follow.
To make the NFC dream truly transformational there needs to be a pressing case to make it mainstream, liberating and of real value. In short, it needs to become a real Social Object that is part of a new social fabric, where your NFC enabled phone is a passport to the virtual and the real world.
(Note: this post was originally published at Spreading Jam)
(Image Credit: Geekapproach)