Consumers Don't Care About NFC

“When you think about the mobile wallet, what’s going to transfer your desire to pay with instruments in your pocket to moving to payments with a mobile phone?” said Walt Doyle, general manager at PayPal Media Network, Boston.

“There’s a lot to that – I think that we have all recognized that it’s not the tap-and-pay or NFC – that’s not enough,” he said.

I really dig the quote above and totally agree. NFC is not enough to get consumers on board with the idea of the mobile wallet--in fact, NFC is not really a factor when it comes to consumer adoption. The mobile wallet will be possible when the following are in place:

  1. Ubiquitous infrastructure--it is one thing for American Express to not be accepted at a few establishments and another to have your payment mechanism of choice only be  accepted 50% of the time
  2. Technological Obscurity--the average person does not want to know how the sausage is made, they just want the sausage
  3. Frictionless Use--it has to work, period. 95% success rate or better!
  4. Security--this is two pronged. The system has to be technically secure, but people also have to trust the brand that is delivering them the service

There has been a lot of talk about a missed opportunity on Apple's part when they chose not to include NFC in the iPhone 5. While it would have been incredibly cool for them to do this, I am not so sure that the feature would have been as been widely adopted as some speculated, as the above bullets are not all satisfied. I would imagine that Apple feels that, given the current state of digital payments and the consumer perception about them, it was just not time to roll out this solution. Instead, they decided to prime the world for such transactions with Passbook.

I look forward to the future of payments as much as anyone (probably much more) but I don't think lack of NFC is the major barrier between us and this future. After all, many people are still not comfortable with mobile commerce in general.

With all of this said, I think mobile payments are just around the corner. Give it two years and the world will look much different!