April 29, 2012, 7:09 AM — Mobile payments enabled by Near Field Communications (NFC) won't have as big an impact as vendors such as Google are hoping for, according to IEEE fellow Jack Winters.
Winters, who is also the founder of Jack Winters Communications LLC, said during a chat with Network World this week that he didn't yet see any reason to shift away from credit cards to mobile phone payments and said that NFC-based payments weren't likely to have a major impact until the technology could reach a critical mass where it was available everywhere.
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"It's something that can be useful, but not until the majority of phones have it," he said. "I use my credit card for $2 payments sometimes and until I'm blocked from using it I don't see NFC becoming widespread."
Instead, Winters sees that the most important new consumer wireless technology in the coming years would be connected home appliances that are both capable of talking with one another and of being monitored remotely though wireless broadband connections. He said that the advent of cloud-based services would mean that users could more easily and cheaply gain insight into how their home security cameras, lighting systems and heating systems were operating at a given time.
"You shouldn't have to call home to see if your lights are on at home," he said. "There should be something that's monitoring everything going on in my life and warning me if anything is out of whack or requires my attention ... the trend is between complete connectivity, and not just between users but between the wireless devices themselves."
NFC payments have become a hot feature on smartphones ever since Google first enabled NFC technology on its Android operating system when it released its Android 2.3 ("Gingerbread") update last year. NFC technology is designed to send very short-range signals to nearby NFC tags to complete payments, meaning that any store or smartphone user that wants to receive payments directly from PayPal or other NFC payment services will need to have NFC tags embedded into their credit card processors and smartphones.