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NFC – How Near-Field Communications Will Change Marketing & Mobile Commerce

May 27, 2011 4 comments

UPDATE: June 3, 2011 – check out the Digital Marketing Lounge Podcast where we discuss NFC, mobile commerce and the Global Smartphone market.

I wanted to write a post about mobile commerce because I think that this is something that will explode over the next two years with Near Field Communication platforms and the introduction of new NFC applications such as Square, Google Wallet & Google Offers.

If you’re not familiar with NFC – it’s a set of short-range wireless technologies, typically requiring a distance of 4 cm or less. NFC always involves an initiator and a target; the initiator actively generates an RF field that can power a passive target. This enables NFC targets to take very simple form factors such as tags, stickers, key fobs, or cards that do not require batteries. What this means is you can basically ‘tap’ your smartphone on an NFC enabled tag to access information, make payments, access loyalty cards, send money to your friend, visit a website, and so much more.

What I find interesting and exciting are the potential uses for NFC & the opportunities to revolutionize point of sale marketing and mobile commerce that are on the horizon.

Mobile Commerce:

Yesterday, Google announced Google Wallet. In partnership with Mastercard, Sprint, Citi and First Data, Google Wallet will allow you to effectively make your phone your wallet. It will store your existing plastic cards (Loyalty cards, debit cards, credit cards, driver’s licenses, etc.) securely, privately and wirelessly on your NFC enabled smartphone.

Example:

You have just finished an incredible meal at a restaurant you frequent that accepts Airmiles. The server brings your bill to the table which looks like a regular cheque. You notice the NFC logo on the bottom of the receipt There is an NFC sticker on the bill that will make it recognizable by your smartphone. Near Field Communication Logo

You tap the logo with your smartphone and a payment application is launched that allows you select how you would like to pay. You select your MasterCard and your Google Wallet also identifies that this restaurant not only accepts Airmiles, but that you also have a loyalty card that will save you 10% off of your bill. You confirm your method of payment and the use of your Airmiles and loyalty cards, add a tip and your done.

Point of Sale Marketing:

When NFC is used at point of sale, consumers will be able to tap a product with their smartphone and access information, take part in promotions, contests, ‘like’ the product on facebook, view reviews and testimonials and access product videos. You’ll find NFC tags in print, on posters, POS, on products, transit shelters and so much more. Everything will be instantly trackable and measurable. Opt-ins to newsletters, promotions and adding leads to back end systems will happen in real time. Most of all, consumers will be able to check-in at merchant retailers, access coupons, sign up for newsletters, donate a dollar to a charity – all through an NFC enabled smartphone.

For merchants, businesses will deploy NFC technologies to accept payments, make it easy for their customers to browse, compare and buy products while in store and offer loyalty discounts and rewards.

Other Exciting Uses for Near Field Communication

  • NFC tags on bus shelters that display bus schedules in real-time when tapped
  • Boarding passes for mass transit (Air travel, train, bus, etc.)
  • Mobile ticketing – Check-in to concerts and sporting events by tapping your smartphone
  • Audio tours of museums or historical walking tours of cities
  • Keyless entry for your vehicle or home
  • Exchanging business cards & contact information by tapping two NFC enabled smartphones together
  • Exchanging money between people (Shawn, you still owe me $20).
The way you interact with retail brands is about to change and your smartphone is fast becoming the #1 thing that you can’t leave your home without. What are your thoughts on NFC, Google Wallet and mobile commerce?
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