Smartphone manufacturers the key to NFC adoption: Comms Council

Industry body calls for companies to release near field communication capable phones in Australia

The Communications Council, a marketing communications industry body, has urged smartphone makers to release near field communication (NFC) capable phones in Australia in order to increase adoption of the technology and create new online marketing opportunities.

NFC technology allows for two-way communication between a device and an NFC terminal at a cash register or pay station.

The council’s digital committee chairperson, Iain McDonald, said that in addition to facilitating faster transactions, NFC will offer greater opportunities for marketers.

For example, because every NFC chip will be linked to an individual’s mobile phone, marketers could deliver targeted offers to shoppers when they enter a store.

“We’re in a peculiar situation in Australia where we are behind the rest of the world when it comes to the rollout of NFC handsets,” he said.

“It’s a chicken and egg situation at the moment as consumers don’t have NFC in their handsets so our clients can’t do any campaigns with it.”

Reports that the forthcoming iPhone 5 may have NFC technology included would be a positive step forward for the Australian market if it is introduced here as it would create a catalyst for adoption, according to McDonald.

He added that Samsung, Nokia, Blackberry and Sony Ericsson were also finalising plans to release NFC-capable phones, although it was not known yet if these would be released in Australia.

“It will still be a couple of years before we see mass penetration of NFC handsets but the time is right for the clients to put it on the agenda and for smartphone manufacturers to include NFC,” he said.

“We just want Australia to be a country that goes first with technology rather than last.”

McDonald pointed out that Australia was already a top five mobile market due to the high penetration of smartphones. “It is estimated that 60 per cent of Australian brands have rolled-out a mobile initiative to date, with over a quarter now having a web site optimised for mobile,” he said.

NFC statistics provided by the Council estimate that 50 per cent of all mobile handsets would have the technology enabled by 2014 with mobile payment transactions worth up to $50 billion globally.

Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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