Near Field Communication technology – or NFC – is a feature that’s been appearing more recently on a few devices (such as the Samsung Galaxy S III and the Nexus 4), but hasn’t had much use here in Australia.
NFC proponents have been banging the mobile payments drum for a while now, and while Google’s Wallet system has been available in the US for some time now, it’s yet to roll out anywhere else. A few of the major Australian banks have shown interest, with ANZ and Westpac both trialling NFC payment systems, but there’s been nothing publicly available so far. This all looks set to change, with Vodafone and Visa today announcing they’ve got their own system coming in 2013.
Vodafone SmartPass will allow customers to use their NFC-enabled smartphone like a credit card. In a similar vein to Visa’s current PayWave credit cards, users will be able to pay for products simply by waving their phones at the special EFTPOS receivers. SmartPass will use a special secure element built into a SIM card to hopefully avoid any unpleasant credit card fraud incidents.
Users will be able to acquire a special NFC-SIM from Vodafone, download the SmartPass app on their NFC-enabled phone, use the app to register for a ‘virtual’ Visa reloadable prepaid card and then pre-load funds onto it from an existing card. Once that’s done, you’re all set.
Vodafone and Visa seem pretty excited about their technology, claiming that total global NFC payments are estimated to “reach more than $110 billion in 2015”. While we’ll have to wait to see whether that is the case, this is certainly a step in the right direction. Hopefully this will trigger the start of a lot more NFC implementation here in Australia.