Interest in Near Field Communication (NFC) is rapidly growing as we begin to see this technology land in the hands of the general public, and as businesses catch up in terms of ecosystems and support structures that allow for many NFC use cases. I was able to recently chat with Geoff from Near Field Communication Product Management at RIM to discuss the future of NFC, mobile payments with BlackBerry® devices, and NFC use cases for businesses. Check out the video below to get all of the details:
What is Near Field Communication?
NFC is a very short range (within a few centimeters) communications technology that allows a data connection to be created between two devices. Basically, it allows you to tap one device against another to create a connection between them to exchange data. NFC can also be used to bootstrap a Bluetooth® or Wi-Fi® connection, allowing you to continue to stay connected even when you pull your device away.
How will NFC affect business?
As Geoff discussed in the video, Near Field Communication has the capacity to change the landscape of business with things like information sharing, mobile payments or gaining access to a building. The use cases extend both internally to organizations as well as externally as part of the customer experience. Let’s look at a few of these ideas in further detail.
Sharing information at an end-user level
BlackBerry® Tag, which is available with the BlackBerry® 7.1 OS in NFC-enabled BlackBerry smartphones, offers a new way to share information at an individual level. Almost any type of media can be shared with a single tap to another NFC-enabled BlackBerry smartphone. Consider sharing contact information in this manner at a conference, passing around a document for review on the go, or providing a customer with a PDF product brochure just by tapping their smartphone. The ability to share while mobile is being significantly enhanced with NFC and apps like BlackBerry Tag, and businesses can experience a clear benefit as a result.
The mobile payment ecosystem
The concept of a digital wallet garners much press and discussion in the market. I think we can all agree that centralizing activity on your mobile phone so that you can leave your wallet at home is an exciting concept; many of us already own credit cards that we can pay with by tapping on a point of sale terminal. But I’m intentionally referring to this as an “ecosystem”, as it’s just that: building mobile payments requires collaboration between banks, merchants, carriers, point of sale technology producers, and several other service providers.
The good news is that much work has already been done to lay the groundwork for mobile payments with BlackBerry devices. In fact, mobile payments using NFC-enabled BlackBerry smartphones is already being done in several parts of the world. BlackBerry smartphones were the first to be certified for mobile payments by Visa and MasterCard. And we’ve been working with Turkcell in Turkey, the ISIS group in the U.S., Rogers in Canada, and many others worldwide to make mobile payments with BlackBerry smartphones a reality.
While security may be a concern held more by organizations than end users at this point in time, once you put your money where your phone is, it becomes a concern for everyone. And given our heritage in security, we continue to work closely with our partners around the world to help alleviate many of those concerns.
Physical and logical access
You may be able to leave your security badge and parking pass at home in the near future. NFC enables physical access, such as tapping your phone to gain entry into your office building, as well as logical access, such as tapping your computer to unlock it. These use cases will bring speed and convenience, not to mention cutting the cost of producing multiple access devices, and allowing you to digitally manage these assets. To that end, RIM has been working with companies like HID Global and Iris ID Systems Inc. to allow the use of NFC-enabled BlackBerry smartphones with their access systems.
What does the future hold?
As these ecosystems develop and the use cases continue to expand into the daily activities of organizations and employees in a wide range of industries, it will be very exciting to see what comes next. We’re constantly working to enable application developers and many other stakeholders in NFC technology to integrate and succeed. RIM remains committed to Near Field Communication moving forward, including the upcoming BlackBerry® 10 platform.
What are your questions about NFC? How could you see NFC technology making your life at work easier and more convenient? Share in the comments below.