NFC to kill keys, wallets: Telstra CTO

Near field communications not just about payments

Mobile devices will become the all-in-one item of choice for consumers within a decade thanks to the expectant growth in near field communications (NFC), said Telstra’s chief technology officer.

Dr Hugh Bradlow told attendees at the Communications Alliance’s Broadband and Beyond 2012 conference in Sydney that NFC will eliminate the need for people to carry items such as their keys or wallet, as both would be built into mobile devices.

“Nokia did a study in 2005 in which they surveyed people and said what can’t you leave your home without and they said their keys, wallet and phone,” Bradlow said.

“But I confidently predict that in the next decade, if they do the same survey again, the answer will just be your phone because your phone will also supply your wallet and keys.”

Bradlow added that NFC is not purely about payments, although payments are a large part of it; but also for a range of use cases including loyalty and ticketing.

MasterCard’s head of market development, Matthew Barr, also shared this view, telling delegates at the conference that payments alone would not drive NFC adoption.

“We don’t believe that payments on its own are sufficient to give NFC to work,” he said.

“It’s not just about payments. It’s about what we can do leveraging the smarts on the phone.”

Instead, Barr said a change in behaviour, largely on the merchant side, is required to encourage the acceptance of and improvement of consumer confidence in NFC technology, as “consumers were ready for the change but the technology isn’t ready yet”.

However, he said this behaviour change may occur sooner rather than later as from October this year, all reissued cards must have a PayPass feature and from April 2014, all MasterCards on the market must be PayPass-enabled.

In addition, Barr predicts the expected rollout of contactless payments in Coles and Woolworths supermarkets, which both combined cover 40 per cent of the Australian retail market, will help legitimise NFC technology and reduce security fears.

Mobile devices will also drive the use of sensors to measure the environment, such as biosensors and chemical measurements, Telstra’s Bradlow said.

“Measurements of human beings have been a helpful communication and things like measuring your heart rate, ECG [electrocardiogram] and oxygen are now available on the market and they basically transmit through your mobile phone into the network,” he said.

“But it’s not just about measuring human beings. It’s about measuring just about anything you can think of in your life. Anything that can be measured will be measured.”

Follow Diana Nguyen on Twitter: @diananguyen9

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