October 27, 2011, 1:40 PM — CHICAGO -- By now you're likely familiar with near-field communications (NFC) technology and its ability to help process mobile payments. But NFC's boosters think it's capable of more, oh, so much more.
During the NFC Summit at 4G World in Chicago this week, representatives from many companies in the NFC market stressed that mobile payments were just the beginning of the many uses that NFC capabilities will bring to our smartphones. Hans Reisgies, an NFC guru and senior vice president of products and sales at Sequent Software, said that he can't wait to see how NFC-enabled phones improve the experience of dating.
"Let's say you're at a social function and there's an attractiveness between you and another person there but you don't know if you want to spend time trying to get to know them," he said. "So what do we do? Well, we could do standard questions-and-answers. Or we take out our phones and tap them together to exchange our eHarmony IDs. This gets me a compatibility score immediately so we now know how eHarmony thinks of our compatibility."
BACKGROUND: Google Wallet: Five things you need to know
Hank Chavers, an associate principle at the Constratus technology consulting firm, said that the Secure Element chip embedded in Google Wallet could let people store several vital documents, including birth certificates, passports and driver's licenses on their smartphones where they could be accessed easily upon request. Secure Element is a chip that is separate from a device's memory that is used to store encrypted credit card data and is designed to "self-destruct" if anyone tampers with it. With this kind of James Bond-style security in place, Chavers said there's no reason that Google Wallet can't keep sensitive identity information just as safe as mobile payment information.
Of course, panelists at the NFC Summit also acknowledged that for these new and innovative uses of NFC to catch on, it would have to work as a mobile payment platform first.
"I've always said I want to see NFC make dating easier but Match.com and eHarmony aren't yet willing to make an upfront investment in the infrastructure to make that a reality," said Reisgies. "Once the payment industry has made that investment and has built all that infrastructure we can do many, many more things with NFC."