yARN: So what's the big fuss about NFC payment from mobiles

yARN: So what's the big fuss about NFC payment from mobiles

"To start with, it’s less convenient than using a credit card"

I really don’t understand why some people seem so keen on the idea of NFC payment from mobile phones.

To start with, it’s less convenient than using a credit card. Which sounds easier to you: grab your phone, unlock it, run the app, enter the PIN, wave at the terminal; or pull the credit card out of your wallet and wave.

Secondly, I’m far more likely to leave home without my phone than without my credit card, which lives in the same wallet as my driver licence. Maybe that’ll change if I’m ever given the option of storing my licence in my phone.

Thirdly, if you use different credit cards for different purposes (eg, personal and work expenditure), selecting the right account on the phone means an extra step, and is therefore even more trouble than pulling out the right card.

Fourthly, Google Wallet transactions involve about a quarter of a megabyte each. So if you buy your morning coffee and lunch, and make just one other purchase each day, that’s about 5% of a basic 500MB mobile data plan.

Finally, you can’t rely on using NFC, as the merchant’s reader may be non-existent or out of order. My experience is that readers are few and far between; so far, the only place I use one is my local Bunnings. Other companies have adopted the technology, but either it hasn’t shown up in the branches I frequent, or I’m not among their customers.

One good thing about the introduction of PayWave and PayPass is that it seems to have resulted in the two large supermarket chains allowing smaller card transactions without entering a PIN - it speeds things up, but still seems slower than NFC which in my experience is practically instantaneous.

So if it’s as much or even more effort to use your phone as a payment card, why not stick to plastic? Let me answer my own rhetorical question, at least in part.

None of my family routinely carries a mobile phone when they are out, and if any of us do take them shopping they’re normally switched off unless we need to make a call, or if we’ve split up and plan to use them to regroup. But that does seem to make us the exception rather than the rule, so I’m prepared to discount objection number two.

Something I especially like the idea of is having my loyalty cards automatically recognised instead of being required to present them separately, though it seems Google Wallet requires the loyalty card to be manually selected. Surely there’s a way of determining where I am and automatically presenting the corresponding card?

Another positive aspect is the potential to do away with that pocketful of receipts (you do reconcile your credit card statements, don’t you?), though I note that Google Wallet currently does not give the option of recording the value of the transaction, only the date and time. A system that recorded a full receipt - accepted by merchants as proof of purchase if you needed to return an item - would be a real plus.

So while I’m currently a phone NFC sceptic, I’d never say never.

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Tags opinionmobile solutionsPayPassGoogle WalletpayWaveNFC payments

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