PayPal chief David Marcus says that the rise of host card emulation has forced him to reevaluate his long-held scepticism about mobile NFC payments, but he still feels bluetooth low energy will be the technology the revolutionises the way we pay.
In its quest to conquer the high street, PayPal has consistently ignored NFC. Back in 2012 Marcus asked: "Is tapping a phone on a terminal any easier than swiping a credit card? I don't think so - it's not solving a real consumer problem and its not providing additional value to encourage me (or anyone else for that matter) to change my behavior."
In a new blog post Marcus says that another major problem with NFC has been the Secure Element and the way in which different players in the ecosystem have fought over who controls it.
The rise of HCE, thanks to support from Google, Visa and MasterCard has helped to solve this problem and "for the first time ever, I saw a glimmer of hope for NFC in some shopping configurations," he writes.
By "shopping configurations" the PayPal president means when shoppers have to pay at specific locations within stores, such as at supermarkets. He makes clear though that, generally, shoppers should "be able to grab what we want and go" and that this is where BLE Beacons beat NFC.
"The bottom line is that I'm moving from being a massive skeptic of NFC, to being cautiously optimistic on NFC HCE take-up in very specific shopping use cases. But I still passionately believe that paying hands-free through a BLE Beacon and notifying the merchant you're in the store through that method will enable more transformative experiences for consumers and retailers alike," concludes Marcus.