Fifth of smartphones NFC-enabled by 2014

Mobile payments

Near Field Communications (NFC), which enables among other things mobile payments, looks set to gather pace over the next three years, with one in five smartphones expected to feature the technology by 2014.

So claims research by Juniper Research that predicts there will be almost 300 million NFC-enabled smartphones in use in three years' time.

Services in early adopter countries over the next year or so will help fuel this growth, according to the research firm. North America will lead the charge come 2014 with half of all NFC smartphones, and Western Europe will take second place.

"Juniper's market analysis highlighted that, although there are still hurdles ahead, NFC prospects have been boosted by the succession of mobile operator and device vendor announcements," said Howard Wilcox, NFC retail marketing and mobile payments report author.

"France is a case in point where operators expect to sell one million NFC devices this year."

In February, both Orange and Vodafone said they'd be supporting NFC technology by 2012. The precise locations to benefit from that support were not revealed.

"NFC is perhaps best known for its role in enabling mobile payments, but its applications go far beyond that," said Franco Bernab, chairman of the GSMA and chief executive of Telecom Italia, at the time.

"NFC represents an important innovation opportunity, and will facilitate a wide range of interesting services and applications for consumers, such as mobile ticketing, mobile couponing, the exchange of information and content, control access to cars, homes, hotels, offices car parks and much more."

Fellow research firm Frost & Sullivan concurs the market for NFC will be big, with the total global payment value expected to top 110 billion in 2015.

While the spotlight is set to shine on NFC in the next few years, the technology won't achieve critical mass until business models have been defined and proven.

"As we have seen, the adoption of different approaches to NFC will only serve to fragment the market," Bernab added back in February.

"By uniting around a single standardised approach to mobile NFC and by collaborating across the entire ecosystem, our industry will continue to develop the compelling services that customers demand."

Maggie Holland

Maggie has been a journalist since 1999, starting her career as an editorial assistant on then-weekly magazine Computing, before working her way up to senior reporter level. In 2006, just weeks before ITPro was launched, Maggie joined Dennis Publishing as a reporter. Having worked her way up to editor of ITPro, she was appointed group editor of CloudPro and ITPro in April 2012. She became the editorial director and took responsibility for ChannelPro, in 2016.

Her areas of particular interest, aside from cloud, include management and C-level issues, the business value of technology, green and environmental issues and careers to name but a few.