[Dave Birch] I’ve been looking at some NFC-related business cases for customers in different countries and noticing — without giving away anything confidential — how different they are: some are focussed on retail, some on transit, some on operators etc. Yet they are all founded on what I think is a reasonable consensus on the narrative to date: that is, customers like NFC (a lot), operators aren’t sure how to cash in and banks aren’t sure whether the operators are on their side or not. One thing they all agree on though is that handset availability shapes the critical path. This is because it seems highly unlikely that consumers will hammer down the doors of mobile phone shops to get NFC handsets to use for boring things like payments. Once they have the handsets I’m sure they will use them for payments, but payments isn’t interesting enough to drive them down to the mall. What consumers will want in the first instance is the simple stuff — smart posters, exchanging numbers, that sort of thing — and above all (in certain urban markets) for transit.

The success of the O2 Wallet trial in London is very encouraging, but it’s important to draw the right lessons from the context. In the trial, 500 Londoners were given Nokia 6131 NFC phones that had a Visa payment application and Transport for London Oyster application on board. The results were unequivocal. Nine out of ten participants were happy using NFC technology on a mobile phone and 78% said they would be interested in using contactless services. Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the pervasive use of Oyster cards in London, almost nine in ten of the trial participants said that the availability of the Oyster application would influence their future choice of mobile phones. This is an astoundingly positive response to new technology, and modesty forbids me from noting Consult Hyperion’s role in the project, so I’ll let Finextra do it instead:

If you want to delve further, you can download O2’s detailed result from our web server here.

These opinions are my own (I think) and presented solely in my capacity as an interested member of the general public [posted with ecto]


  1. Hi Dave,
    thank you very much for your always sensible comments.
    Similarly, you are certainly aware about what Bouygues Telecom has recently launched : contactless smartcards to educate people to top-up their mobile prepaid account more easily (first step towards NFC).
    (the only one in English I found but with a pay-per-use)

  2. Thanks for the pointer Jean-Michel. If I were Bouyges, though, I’d have used a contactless sticker (to go on the phone) rather than a contactless card.

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