What Is NFC?

Although not everyone may be aware of it, NFC (short for near-field communications) is a technology that has been around for several years now. Probably thanks to the hype of the iPhone 5 possibly having NFC built-in – which we know by now is not true – the technology caught the attention of the tech-loving public.

NFC Technology

NFC

As the name suggests, NFC revolves around the concept of having devices communicate with each other simply by touching – or by being in close proximity. The technology involves standards, which cover data exchange formats and protocols which devices must follow in order to be compatible with each other.

Think of it as an extension of the RFID system where you simply have to tap your card at a terminal to pay for your subway fare.

What Can NFC Be Used For?

NFC can be used for a wide range of applications, but the main focus at the moment is cashless payment systems. It’s the tech-inclined consumer’s dream. With NFC-capable phones and compatible systems, one merely has to tap or swipe his device to pay for all sorts of things. In addition to paying for purchases, NFC does allow more possibilities. For example, information such as rewards points, discount coupons, and vouchers can be transferred using the same technology.

Payment systems aside, NFC can also be tapped to enhance your entertainment experience. Think of being able to use your phone as a game controller. How about controlling home appliances using your phone? I personally think that’s a superfluous function, but whatever floats your boat!

The bottom line is that NFC opens up a world of possibilities.

The Apple Factor and Talk of Deadpooling

So, why do I even ask if it’s time to deadpool NFC?

We know just how overblown things can get when it comes to Apple and its products. Before “concrete” details about the iPhone 5 were released, there was some talk about NFC being included. Now that we know it’s not true, there’s talk about NFC not going anywhere.

Guys, the iPhone is awesome. No doubt about it. But, there are many other phones out there, and you might be surprised, but there is a big bunch of NFC phones you can choose from. Judging by that list alone, NFC is not going to draw its last breath any time soon. (Although that is not to say that it will be thriving in the next weeks or months.)

And there’s another thing we need to take into consideration: for mobile payments at least, the success of NFC does not rely solely on this particular technology. There are other factors such as telcos and the quality of service they deliver. Think about it, how fast and how reliable are telcos at the moment? Will they be able to handle the load of several thousand people making payments in the same location? In some areas, maybe. In many other areas, probably not.

This might very well be one reason Apple has decided not to include NFC in the latest iPhone. Why would they, when it probably wouldn’t work due to other factors?

That being said, it seems to me that it is too early to deadpool NFC. Sure, the conditions do not seem ripe for it to go mainstream in the near future, but there is a lot of potential in the technology, and when the other factors line up, we might yet see NFC on every phone that matters.

[Image via nicolasnova]