When it comes to near field communication a lot of the focus is on using the technology for payments. But NFC is gaining attention for other applications as discussed at the 2014 NFC Solutions Summit, presented by the Smart Card Alliance.
Using NFC in the Internet of Things was a hot topic at the conference. “It’s not just about the phone,” said Paula Hunter, NFC Forum’s executive director. “It’s about the wearables, the appliances, the speakers and the laptops – NFC is being enabled across the whole spectrum of the consumer marketplace.”
Hunter cited several non-payment NFC use cases that are enhancing the consumer experience, including wearable baby monitors, cars that can send alerts for services and smart thermostats that that allow temperatures to be adjusted on the go.
AT&T’s NFC strategy is focused on NFC opportunities beyond payments and building services for the installed base of contactless/NFC readers, especially for transit and physical access applications, Howard Krieger of AT&T’s Industry Solutions Practice told the audience.
AT&T is working along with Blackboard on NFC pilots at Quinnipiac and Tulane Universities, giving students access to education, resources, facilities and funds. Blackboard plans to expand the NFC pilot this fall.
Host-card emulation and Bluetooth low power were also discussed at the conference.
Host Card Emulation unlocks NFC without the need for integration with the mobile device’s secure element or for the support of a trusted service manager. “HCE is an architecture, not a solution,” said Ted Fifelski, the co-founder of SimplyTapp, the company that created HCE. “When it comes to levels of fraud and risk, HCE offer options. Enterprises need to ask themselves, ‘what are you protecting?’” and add levels of security they deem appropriate.
NFC and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) will likely complement each other and coexist in the mobile ecosystem because their best use cases differ, John Ekers, the CIO at ABnote said in his keynote presentation. BLE’s quick coupling abilities are best for use cases that don’t require high levels of security, like in-store mobile marketing and gamification, and will drive consumers into stores and create interest. Payment, though, “is the ideal transaction for NFC,” Ekers said.