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Could NFC be about to burst forth in m-payments? Juniper and eDigitalResearch figures point that way

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The number of consumers making contactless payments via their mobile handsets would reach 300 million globally by 2017, up from just over 110 million last year as many markets find that they are being seeded with contactless cards for a push into mobile NFC payments later this year, finds a study by Juniper Research.

This is backed up by figures from eDigitalResearch which finds that consumer awareness of contactless and NFC is now accelerating. More than half (58%) of consumers now report seeing a contactless payment point or symbol, an increase from just 15% in 2012, its study finds.

eDigitalResearch also finds that 55% of respondents now own some sort of contactless payment card, 38% of whom have used the technology to make a payment. 1 in 10 (9%) of the UK population now have access to an NFC enabled smartphone device – 49% of whom have made a contactless mobile payment.

Of those that are yet to make a payment using a contactless card, eDigitalResearch finds that 57% expect to do so within the next year – and the same can be said for mobile. With that in mind, it’s not awareness anymore that banks and technology providers need to be working on, but opening up the technology so that more can take advantage of the benefits that contactless payments have to offer.

Interested parties must also challenge people’s perceptions of the technology, as well as alter consumer behavior, warns eDigitalResearch’s findings. Almost three quarters (71%) of the 43% who said that they’re not interested in using contactless cards felt that the technology is just not necessary.

According to Juniper this is being met to some degree by a marked increases in the roll out of contactless POS (Point of Sale) terminals, with leading vendors VeriFone and Ingenico both now shipping the majority of their terminals with NFC (Near Field Communications) as standard.

However, the report cautioned that stakeholders needed to step up efforts to raise consumer awareness about mobile contactless payments and to educate retailers about the contactless value proposition.

According to Juniper report author Dr Windsor Holden: “Contactless is largely being sold to retailers on the basis of faster throughput at the POS. The other critical opportunities offered by contactless — such as consumer engagement and product upselling — are much lower on their radar.”

Meanwhile, the report argued that the lack of a coherent business model had constrained NFC rollouts, with the cost to deploy a mobile payment card more than to issue a plastic card.

Furthermore, while it claimed that the anticipated launch of an Apple iWallet would create a positive “halo effect” for the wider contactless space, it was unclear at present whether additional POS upgrades would be required.

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