There is no question that mobile payments are revolutionizing many different industries. Incorporating NFC (near field communication) technology is one of the ways in which our society is moving gradually toward a cashless economy.
As more and more smartphones include NFC capabilities, the uses for this technology become increasingly abundant. Though mobile payments are one of the possibilities, NFC offers more than just a way to "swipe and pay."
Despite the fact the Apple iPhone 5 has not incorporated NFC, the technology may be on its way to becoming ubiquitous. Though mobile payments are one possibility for NFC-enabled smartphones, there is much more that this technology can offer both to consumers and small business.
For the small business operator, NFC can enhance the customer experience by offering a quick and easy way for people to "check in" via social media outlets like Twitter, FourSquare, and Facebook. Without the additional time and effort required to pull up the application on a smartphone and click through to check in, it is possible that more customers will take advantage of the "check in" feature and promote favored businesses with social media sharing.
On an NFC-enabled device, consumers can swipe their smartphones on a dedicated tag mounted in the business and automatically broadcast to their social followers. There is no better endorsement than a happy customer; NFC technology can help promote small businesses without breaking the bank.
Small businesses can also benefit from NFC technology in the area of mobile loyalty programs and rewards. With a quick swipe, customers can access loyalty programs on offer while the small business owner reaps the benefits of repeat business.
Businesses can also use NFC technology to heighten security and control thermostats and lighting fixtures. NFC-enabled devices are already being used for access control, replacing old-fashioned swipe cards and giving employees access to secure areas while protecting company investments.
And in industries like hospitality, the possibilities really are endless: NFC-enhanced menus, hotel room keys, elevator access stations, and much more.
Though NFC is not yet fully in the mainstream, Forrester Research predicts that approximately 100 million NFC-ready devices will ship to consumers in the year 2012. Clearly, NFC is the way of the future, and mobile payments are only one of the myriad possibilities this versatile technology offers.
The movement toward contactless mobile payments will likely drive increasing demand for NFC-capable smartphones. And as these devices become more familiar to the average consumer, small businesses will likely find many additional ways to reap the benefits of this exciting technology.
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