Wentker said security is not seen as a major concern with NFC, partly because banks offer refunds for fraudulent payments, but also because the smartphone apps that use the NFC chips require passing the smartphone over a reader close by within 20 to 30 seconds of activation.
NFC technology has caught the attention of many consumers, partly because the Apple iPhone 5, expected later this year, is thought to include the technology. The iPhone would be backed by Apple's enormous iTunes customer base, where every customer has already registered for song and app purchases with a credit card.
Wireless carriers have also wanted to use their networks for processing transactions behind the NFC interaction. Verizon Wireless, AT&T and T-Mobile USA last year created Isis to allow smartphone-based NFC payments using Discover Financial Services to process the payments.
At Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in early February, carriers in Europe and Asia and smartphone makers, including BlackBerry-maker Research in Motion, described current efforts with NFC .
Samsung also has announced that its Galaxy S II smartphones will have NFC capability, while ZTE of China will be adding NFC chips to its mobile phones before July.
Juniper Research recently said there are about 10 million phones with NFC today, a number that will reach more than 450 million by 2015.
Gold said that the ability to use a smartphone as a mobile wallet won't supercede the credit card or PayPal or Google Payments any time soon. That said, with so many NFC devices coming out in the next 1-2 years, "its likely this will be a big business over time, even if a relatively small percentage of users make use of the services," Gold said.
Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed . His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .
Read more about mobile apps and services in Computerworld's Mobile Apps and Services Topic Center.