NFC will not take off if services aren’t compelling, warns Orange’s contactless chief

Orange’s director of contactless services has warned that near-field communication (NFC) technology may struggle to gain consumer acceptance if retailers and service providers do not harness it to provide compelling services to end users.

Vincent Barnaud, director of mobile-contactless services for Orange Group, said that while there is a long term need for technologies such as NFC to be used for authentication, there is no guarantee that NFC will become the technology of choice. This is despite increasing momentum behind deployment of the technology.

“When you see the number of handsets coming to the market, the number of countries where merchants are deploying PoS equipment, there is just a momentum that can’t be stopped,” he said. But while the risk of deployment is low, the risk around uncertainty of usage is real.”

Orange Group made a commitment last year to sell 500,000 NFC handsets – an ambitious target given the dearth of NFC-enabled handsets on the market at the time. Although it met that target, Barnaud cautioned that this offers no assurances that NFC will become widely used, and retailers and service providers offering NFC-based services will be the ones responsible for its take-up.

“Infrastructure is not enough to spur usage. Really the question now is what will be the value proposition developed by the service providers?” he said. “How innovative will they be? How aggressive from a commercial point of view will they be? We have no answer to that. It all depends on richness of services.”


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