Demand for mobile payments at the point of sale drives creative solutions to lack of NFC handsets

OPINION: The question of how to begin offering mass market NFC services when inexpensive NFC phones are still some time away is finally beginning to resolve itself.

The answer for organisations looking to launch NFC-like services to large numbers of customers now looks set to be a dual solution approach: Make NFC phones available to early adopters once they become widespread later this year, and employ one of several possible interim solutions to enable everyone else to participate in your service right away — albeit less elegantly but at little or no cost.

Depending on the kind of service you want to offer from launch, options could include the simple RFID stickers being tested by Dairy Queen, a standard prepaid card linked to a mobile wallet, as launched this week by Canada’s top mobile operators, or a more sophisticated sticker incorporating contactless card functionality.

Alternatively — or as well — one of the NFC/Bluetooth solutions that enables any Bluetooth-equipped phone to act as an NFC device could be offered. Options here include MicroSD card based solutions, as offered by Cell Idea and Tyfone, and Twinlinx’s My-Max sticker, which has caught the eye of Bouygues Telecom. Or you could offer a separate device, such as the TazCard or With Me.

Whichever option is taken, though, the important lesson to be learned from the latest mobile payment developments is that the road to NFC doesn’t necessarily have to involve an NFC phone.

Sarah Clark, Editor

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