A new report done by IDTechEx compares and contrasts Near Field Communication, and particularly RFID enabled mobile phones, with contactless smart cards and tickets. It emphasizes how they are forms of RFID with advantages and disadvantages and different development paths.
The researchers came to the conclusion that there will continue to be rapid growth in sales for at least ten years. This follows 800 million Chinese acquiring contactless national ID cards in four years and 47 million Japanese adopting NFC-compatible phones in three years. These were two of the fastest rollouts of electronic products in human history, the report states.
NFC, a communications protocol that enables electronic devices to communicate with one another if held within a few centimeters, is underpinned by a global ISO specifications. It has attracted the attention of the largest telecommunication companies, transport companies, banks and others and new trials are frequently announced all over the world.
However, it has yet to take off, despite phones with the Sony Felica interface, compatible with NFC, being placed in the hands of 50 million Japanese in little more than two years. The many trials confirm that we are all like the Japanese in seeking the convenience that such phones can offer. So why the delay? Why do more and more trials, the report asks?
With NFC phones, the telecommunication companies have nearly all the power and they have often failed to seek a mutuality of benefit with others in the value chain. That has meant that very few NFC enabled phones have been made available, banks are cautious about letting their cards be mimicked by the phones and transport operators are cautious about the ticketing option being loaded.
It will all be resolved in due course. The wealth of value added services for the telecommunication companies will see to that but, as with retail contactless payments, the speed of progress will depend on how much mutual benefit emerges.
At least there is a role model of success. The large telecommunications company, NTT DoCoMo, is behind the early success of the Japanese phones now commonly used for shop purchases and ticketing. It struck realistic deals, including emulating the Suica stored value card held by 22 million people.
IDTechEx explains why a $4 billion business in contactless cards and tickets and their systems will emerge in 2018 and details the elements of that business. Ten year forecasts are given for all these devices and systems.
IDTechEx forecasts that, while the yearly number of mobile phones sold rises from one to two billion in the next few years, the number of NFC phones sold will rise from 134 million in 2008 to 860 million in 2018. East Asians will continue to show the way, not because of differences in consumer wants but because their governments and industry make sure the inter-industry haggling stops and projects that benefit the nation go ahead.