Jan 29, 2011

Unexpected use of tap and go with mobile phones - think out of the box

Soon we will get tap and go technology built into iPhones and iPads. The common view is that this will replace credit cards. We might even be able to leave our wallets at home. I think people are missing lots of other features that may appear long before mobile payments, and that Apple could announce to everyone's surprise.

Two excellent articles tear apart the idea of tap and go mobile payments. Check out Will Apple Get Us To Wave At The Point Of Sale? by Karen Webster and A Bubble In Mobile Payments? by Scott Loftesness. I wholeheartedly agree with the views in both of these articles. I've been saying the same thing for years, as regular readers of my blog already know.

Yet, I do believe that Apple and others will very soon be building the technology (NFC - for Near Field Communications, to be exact) into their products. Why? Let's take a look from a different angle.

You might have wondered why Apple is putting tap and go technology into the iPad. Think about it ... waving your mobile phone at the point of sale is one thing, but waving your iPad?

I have a comical vision in my head of a guy getting a latte at Starbucks and looking very much as if he is swatting at flies with his iPad. Would make a great little piece on YouTube, but not very credible in real life.

So what's that all about? Why put tap and go technology into an iPad?

A few years ago, Sony demonstrated a precursor to NFC built into one of their mobile phones and a TV set. They demonstrated something very cool. Tap your phone against the TV set, and the pictures from your phone will instantly appear on the TV screen. NFC was used as a way to pair up a Bluetooth connection between the phone and the TV set without all of the normal hassles of Bluetooth pairing.

NFC functions at a very close distance, and is very secure, so it is a great way to establish a connection. After that, it's best to let Bluetooth take over for a faster connection at a larger distance.

Lots of things can be paired up in this way, just by tapping them together.

Tap your iPhone against your iPad to download your pictures to your iPad. Tap your iPad against your printer, and presto, they are connected and you can instantly print.

When I heard that the iPad would have NFC, I immediately realized that Apple was not going after the payments space (at least right now). And yet, that's where everybody is looking today.


Dave Birch said...

"waving your mobile phone at the point of sale is one thing, but waving your iPad?"

An iPad with NFC isn't a wallet Aneace, it's a POS.

Dave Birch.

Aneace Haddad said...

Hi Dave. Maybe 1 iPad out of 1,000 or 1 out of 10,000 might end up being used as a POS. Putting NFC into every single iPad has got to be for some other reason than that, Something much more consumer focused.

Kashif said...

Its a general perception that NFC = Payments which is only part of the whole NFC umbrella. NFC has 3 modes i.e. 1. Card emulator for payments (Yes) 2. Read mode i.e. to read information from posters/goods etc 3. P2P transfer mode so it can be anything out of these not necessarily payments. Though we cant over rule the possibility of payments with phone but I doubt with the Tabs. Its easy to carry wallet than carrying iPad :-)

All said, I do have a feeling that Apple might switch all their iTunes payment mechanism to NFC channel.. but thats just me.