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NFC not just for mobile payments: Six future uses

Al Sacco | Aug. 15, 2012
By now, you're probably somewhat familiar with Near Field Communications (NFC) technology. And when you hear the term NFC, the first thing that comes to mind is probably mobile payments.

Some cities and urban areas are already using NFC to better serve their citizens and improve quality of life. NFC technology could let bus travelers pay for their commutes to work with their mobile devices. Commuters who drive to work could access parking lots and pay for parking with their smartphones. And city residents could get access to public facilities, such as swimming pools or libraries, with a tap of a tablet.

France's Association Francais Du Sans Contact Mobile (AFSCM), or Association for Mobile Contactless in France, is ahead of the curve when it comes to NFC-based services. And in Europe, France ranks among the top countries based on the number of citizens with NFC-enable phones, according to the group. AFSCM expects 2.5 million French citizens to have NFC devices by the end of 2012. The French "Cityzi" service lets users in certain French locales to quickly scan their handhelds to access train stations and tap their devices against NFC tags placed in a variety of locations to get maps or other information on products or services.

The city of San Francisco currently has some 30,000 NFC-compatible parking meters. And Sydney, Australia is using NFC tags to help guide tourists around one of its most popular landmark districts, The Rocks.

NFC and the Retail Shopping Experience

NFC also promises to expand and enhance the modern retailer shopping experience, according to Forrester, via a combination of wireless coupons, loyalty cards and payment options.

From the Forrester report:

"NFC tags placed on product shelves will enable consumers to access more personalized information about products when scanning them with an app that integrates their personal profile; for example, if you're allergic to nuts, the product scan could automatically detect if the product contained nuts and alert you...Tap-for-information, tap-to-add-to-basket, tap-for-coupons, and other new usage scenarios will have an increasing impact on the retail industry."

A "Digital Gumball Machine" from advertising firm Razorfish is just one quirky example of how NFC could transform the modern shopping experience. The machine dispenses a variety of digital goods, including song downloads, movies, e-book and location-specific coupons to users after they feed it a few coins and tap it with their compatible NFC devices.

NFC and Marketing

NFC technology has far-reaching implication for modern marketers.

For example, users with NFC phones can quickly wave their devices over NFC-enabled flyers, advertisements, billboards or movie posters to instantly collect additional information on products or service.

Businesses can place NFC tags in the entrances to their stores so users can check-in automatically on social networks like foursquare or Facebook, or share details or "Likes" with friends. The Walibi amusement park in Belgium recently rolled out a first-of-its-kind NFC-based system called Walibi Connect that lets users scan NFC-enabled bracelets to automatically send updates and Likes of events and attraction at the amusement park to their Facebook pages. The system also rewards frequent users with badges and other achievements based on NFC check-ins.


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