Nokia’s Near Field Communications technology, a system for quickly sending information between otherwise unconnected machines, is a risky attempt at regaining relevance in the mobile phone market. Nokia’s VP for Markets has stated that from next year NFC technology will be embedded in every Nokia handset, in an effort to create interest in an exclusive new feature instead of waiting for it to appear. The most obvious appeal of this system is swipe payments – adding credit cards and bank details to the everything else already included in our mobile wonderboxes – and a leaked video seems to suggest that the same system will upload electronic receipts in return.
The advantages of instant payment and electronically archived receipts are obvious (and far more useful than the trendy-but-minor ecological advantages stressed in the video), but the problem is that everyone has to use NFC before anyone will want to. There’s no point in a payment system you can’t use anywhere, and the average business won’t upgrade their point-of-sale hardware unless they have a very good reason to, a catch-22 conundrum. Nokia’s trying to muscle through by unleashing a wave of NFC-equipped handsets. If it takes off, there’ll be an incredible app-store-a-like wave of unexpected applications for the technology. If it doesn’t, Nokia will have spent a lot of money to lose more relevance.
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