There has been a lot of talk about NFC since Android 2.3, “Gingerbread” rolled out last December in the Samsung Nexus S. Near Field Communication is what “NFC” stands for and it allows people to use their phones as payment devices via a tap or a wave. The technology is very similar to the cards you wave to pay for gas but instead of a keyring filled with cards or a wallet bulging at the seams it’s all stored in the phone.
Sprint is planning to start offering fully working NFC some time this year ahead of rivals Verizon Wireless, AT&T, and T-Mobile.
Sprint’s Vice President of Product Platforms, Kevin McGinnis, hopes that offering a service where a customer can use their phone and wave it or tap it to make a payment at a third party physical location, will attract more customers. Sprint is hopeful that they can roll the service out this year ahead of a competing service called Isis, which won’t be available until 2012.
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“We intend to make this an open solution where consumers can use their phone in a variety of physical locations,” said McGinnis. “Because we’re allowing other brands and other institutions to participate, they can also tell their consumers that this is available on Sprint.”
Sprint plans on having NFC purchases by their customers paid for on their customers credit card bills rather than their Sprint bill. Instead of a percentage of the transaction, Sprint plans a revenue stream in the form of offers, and coupons that will be given to their customers to use at NFC enabled establishments.
This is the start of the NFC revolution that former CEO, Eric Schmidt, was talking about in his keynote at Mobile World Congress in February.
Thomas Husson an analyst with the research firm Forrester says that we can expect to see Tap & Go handsets allow for purchases at vending machines, parking meters and transit ticket gates.
“Operators believe payments represent an opportunity for them to create value-added services, reduce churn, increase data revenues, and impose hosting and management fees on third parties,” Husson said.