Despite some security loopholes remaining, near field communications technology is gaining a foothold in Australia, according to Visa A/NZ.
NFC, which enables data exchanges and transactions to be made between two devices within close range to each other, is expected to be more widely used for contactless payments.
The technology will allow consumers with an NFC-enabled smartphone containing their credit or debit card details to make purchases with a wave or tap of their phone on a card reader.
“We think it’s a disruptive technology, in terms of plastic cards for payments,” said Ben Pfisterer, Visa’s director of innovation & emerging products, Australia and New Zealand speaking at a recent panel on near field communication.
“We think there could be an end to those as credit cards move towards inside the phone.
“Obviously, that will take years to happen, but we really feel that there’s no need for plastic anymore with NFC because it will be more secure in the phone.”
Pfisterer attributes the growing penetration of NFC to consumer and merchant demand for the technology, with big retailers including 7-Eleven, Bunnings, Caltex, McDonald’s, Woolworths and most recently Coles to have rolled out contactless facilities.
“It’s not just about the consumers,” he said.
“We think the consumer value property is significant but also... are handset vendors, telcos, and also merchants.
“Whilst the technology is starting to merge, [merchants] are getting ready for that.”
However, according to Pfisterer, the uptake of NFC payment systems has been gradual, which is largely due to the lack of contactless infrastructure and consumer wariness about its security merits.
Despite such security concerns, Westpac and Visa Australia representatives last month said that NFC technology is here to stay.
The statements follow on from Research In Motion’s partnership with Sydney-based NFC company Tapit to promote the use of NFC technology in mobile devices.
In October, RIM announced MasterCard Worldwide had approved its BlackBerry Bold 9900 and BlackBerry Curve 9360 smartphones as PayPass devices — the first SIM-based, NFC-enabled smartphones to be certified for PayPass.
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