As our world becomes increasingly mobile, consumers are slowly becoming more used to using their now ubiquitous smartphones and tablets for purposes other than communication. Now that mobile payment technology is becoming more familiar to the general public, smartphone and tablet designers are coming up with new ways to incorporate near field communication (NFC) technology for improved performance and security.
One particularly pesky problem plaguing NFC-enabled phones is their high battery drain. Smartphone users are used to batteries not lasting as long as they might in less technology- and media-rich devices, but battery life is a major consideration when consumers make smartphone purchases. Decreasing battery drain from NFC chips could potentially make the technology more appealing in future designs. Just last week, Qualcomm Atheros, a subsidiary of Qualcomm, announced its upcoming release of a new low-power NFC chip with mobile payment capability. The chip, dubbed the QCA1990, is the industry’s smallest, boasting a 50% smaller footprint than currently available NFC chips.
The small, ultra-low power, and inexpensive NFC solution is designed to allow OEMs (original equipment manufacturers – the folks who make the smartphones and tablets that could potentially include the chips) to integrate the chips at a significant savings. The companies can then pass the savings on to consumers, keeping the price point low for NFC technology. All this is good news for the mobile payments sector.
The chip is designed to preserve battery life by running on much less battery power than existing NFC solutions. The chip is also designed to support multiple secure elements and increase security in mobile payment transactions. In a recent statement from Qualcomm Atheros VP David Favreau, the company expressed its belief that mobile payments are the way of the future, and that NFC is an essential part of the solution: "Qualcomm Atheros believes NFC will be another key element of an enriched experience for smartphone and tablet consumers. As consumers continue to adopt functions like mobile payments and contactless data exchange, Qualcomm intends to be at the forefront of delivering simple, easy-to-use solutions to OEM partners.” Qualcomm seeks to make these chips available soon so that OEMs can adopt the new chips quickly.
So again we come to the age-old question: will NFC really take off? Early this year, when Apple introduced the iPhone 5, there was a great deal of interest and speculation as to whether or not the devices would include NFC capability. When it was revealed that the iPhone 5 would not be NFC-ready, it seemed to signal that Apple believes the technology is not where the market is headed. Yet there are other major players, including Qualcomm, who seem to feel that NFC will soon be more widely adopted. It’s clear that mobile payments will become increasingly popular. What remains to be seen is whether or not NFC will be the preferred method.
What are your thoughts on NFC and its potential for consumers and retailers in the coming years? Let us know in the comments!
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