Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Doing NFC or not, that is not a question

I have noticed that Orange recently made a major commitment to NFC roll-out (Read here). Just scanning the media, tweets and blogs, it seems as if a frenzy of excitement has been whipped up by Apple and Google. Just the mere fact that they seem to be ready to ship phones with NFC radios in, has got everyone excited. (Read here, here and here, to quote just a few).

Given all the excitement, it must surely be the time to start "doing NFC". Whether you are a mobile operator, bank or technology supplier, it is impossible to ignore the reality of "doing NFC". I have been in quite a few meetings this year where everyone is talking about (and making commitments) to do NFC this year. I must say this is something that I have been grappling with silently. I have been to shy to ask someone what "doing NFC" actually is all about.

In order to make NFC work on a scale that is big enough to support the business case required to fund the infrastructure, quite a large eco-system must be established. It is only going to be possible to have critical mass if a large enough acquiring network exists, if the payment or transactional back-office systems have been deployed and integrated to the rest of the payment world, if the business procedures to support NFC solutions have been implemented and so forth and so forth.

When I think about it, I do not think that how one does NFC is a question. Many other elements of the solution must first be implemented. While the rest of the world is talking about "doing NFC", I think I will focus on establishing the back office systems that will make NFC possible when the world is ready.

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