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Easy payments with your NFC enabled phone

If you thought QR codes were pretty amazing you might be interested in NFC too. With a NFC capable mobile phone you’ll be able to use your phone to pay for parking, bus ticket, drinks, etc just by holding your phone over a compatible device…

What is NFC?

NFC, or Near Field Communication, is a new communication technology that allows devices to talk to each other (like Bluetooth for instance), but NFC is optimized for easy communication over an extremely short distance, just a few centimeters. Essentially, it allows you to read information while holding your phone over a NFC chip or tag that can even be embedded in “smart” posters.

So how could this be useful?

Not only would this allow your phone to easily pay for small expenses like bus tickets and drinks but it goes beyond payments. Just by holding your phone over a tag you can read info, without having to take a picture of a QR barcode first.

Google is experimenting with stickers that business owners can display in their windows and allow customers to access info about the business, including opening hours etc…

A swedish company is testing the use of NFC-enabled phones as hotel keys. The technology can literally open a lot of doors.

These are just a few examples of possible uses and I’m pretty sure you can come up with some good uses for this technology as well.

When will it be available?

In my country, Belgium, some banks and mobile operators have announced plans to offer NFC payments by the end of 2011. Orange already announced it would be rolling out NFC across most of it’s European network.

Which phones have NFC?

At the time of writing this post only a few phones have NFC chips built-in. My latest phone, the Google Nexus S, is one of the first to support this feature but other phones are following. There are rumours that iPhone 5 will have a NFC chip built-in as well.

More info:

  1. Wiki definition: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Near_field_communication
  2. What Google’s NFC android phones will mean for you
  3. Google joins NFC Forum to help promote mobile payments
  4. TNW: Google Places window stickers are NFC enabled