"What's important for mobile payments and any other payment innovation is creating a better experience," she said. "We have seen that after a consumer taps two or three times, they almost never go back, whether it's a consumer buying at the register or a commuter going through a turnstile."
Analysts generally see the NFC payments as more beneficial for retailers than credit card and mobile companies jumping into the game.
Josh Beck, consumer and technology research analyst at Pacific Crest, said mobility is just an aspect of driving customer loyalty. "The technology per se I don't think is the silver bullet," he said. "I think Visa, Master Card and Google are all going to want to get into this technology. [But] I don't think it's the only technology they're betting on."
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Philippe Benitez, vice president of marketing for Gemalto's mobile financial services group, agreed. "In the end, the purpose of the app is to increase the transactions with that business," he said. Gemalto provides security services for Isis and other major US mobile payment services.
For all its potential and application in the payments market, NFC is just one of a few contactless technologies such as Apple's iBeacon.
"I don't think beacons and NFC should be opposed. They can be complementary technologies and some players are offering both," said Forrester analyst Thomas Husson. The "most important issue here is not the technology but how you segment your customer base to contextualize services and serve the right information to the right customers in their mobile moments. Too many marketers and business people are jumping into the technology hype without defining the utility they will offer to their clients."
Back in 2004, Sony, Nokia and Phillips created the NFC Forum to establish standards for the short-range wireless communication technology.
"Three things are required for NFC mainstream adoption: device availability, solutions availability and consumer education," said Paula Hunter, executive director of the forum. She pointed to recent developments that show how the technology is picking up speed.
Growing uses include public transit passes (as in Hong Kong's Octopus Card app) and transfer of photos from digital cameras to phones. Potential uses outlined by IHS research analyst Don Tait include restaurant menus, smart maps, smart parking meters, coupons from TV or Web advertisements and business cards.
More devices are supporting NFC as well. "Nine out of the top 10 smartphone suppliers have launched NFC-enabled handsets," Tait said.