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6.8m UK mobile phone owners potentially eager to use handsets for direct payment and brand interaction via NFC, poll finds

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One in five UK consumers is eagerly awaiting near-field communications (NFC) technology, which will allow them to use their mobile phone to pay for goods and services and receive offers in real-time, according to a poll of 17,000 people carried out by Acxiom.

The online study points to 20.5% of individuals being ready – mentally for the moment, the kit isn’t quite there yet – for NFC, which is set to be tested in several UK towns during the summer and latter half of 2011. The figure equates to almost 6.8 million of the 33 million people in the UK who have mobile phone subscriptions.

The survey showed that those most likely to use NFC are married couples aged 45 to 54, earning in excess of £40,000 per year. They are generally middle or senior managers, and many run their own business. Other common characteristics include enjoying extensive travel, skiing, playing golf and going to restaurants. They are likely to be regular donors to charity and own at least two cars per household, preferring Saab, Audi, Mercedes or Land Rover.

Gaurang Vartikar, Acxiom Europe’s head of mobile, says: “Our results show these consumers will be the early adopters of NFC and the best way to reach them would be trials at their favourite retail stores, which are Sainsbury’s Local, Tesco Metro, Waitrose and Marks & Spencer.”

The study also finds that those people who are open to using NFC would do so to make payments, receive loyalty points, acquire coupons and even download ads to their phones. Some 15% would also be happy to share their information, as long as a brand is transparent about what information they collect.

Single female homeowners aged 25 to 44, living in urban areas and earning up to £40,0000, are more likely to use NFC for coupons and loyalty points than for making payments, while students and large families showed a greater amount of interest in using their mobile devices to make day-to-day payments, but are still interested in receiving coupons and loyalty points via NFC.

Vartikar adds: “Contactless data transfer opens up a world of possibilities for marketers. From new payment options to marketing and peer-to-peer communications, the opportunities are immense and yet to be fully understood.

“The research indicates that 15% of respondents are willing to share their details with brands via NFC. Brands now need to quickly understand who these supporters of NFC are, what they spend their money on and what they will use the new services for in order to send them targeted, relevant offers.”

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