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From 'tap and go' to 'tap and hold': Mobile NFC found lagging

19 April 2011  |  13750 views  |  2 Visa Telstra NAB - NFC payment trial

Mobile phones embedded with Near Field Communication (NFC) technology may be too slow to pass muster at the retail point of sale, according to experiments carried out by Oracle.

A key value proposition of NFC-enabled phones for consumers is speed aligned with the ability to replace loyalty cards, coupons and payment cards with a single handheld device.

However, proof-of-concept trials performed by Oracle and expounded upon in the vendor's retailing blog, finds the requirement to perform multiple look-ups slows the speed of the transaction to no faster than that of a swipe card.

Says Oracle's David Dorf: "During our experiments with NFC, we found it to be too time consuming to open each of three files to read the contents representing loyalty, coupons, and payment. It took roughly two seconds per file, which doesn't sound slow, but it moves the consumer from a 'tap to a 'tap and hold'."

Combining the data from all three files into a single one speeded up the transaction, but as Dorf notes: "Realistically, the data is owned by three different organisations, and they will want their own files."

Writing data to the phone, for example by erasing spent coupons or adding new points at the POS, extends the transaction time still further.

One solution might be to provide the phone with a unique NFC tag that connects with a back-end server. This might reduce the workload at the checkout, but it would also require the POS to be online.

Says Oracle's Dorf: "NFC payments will certainly be quick, but I doubt they'll be much quicker than today's magstripe and smart cards. Does it really matter whether I swipe, dip, or tap my card? So why should anyone care about NFC?"
KeywordsEFTPOS

Comments: (2)

Brett King
Brett King - Moven - New York | 20 April, 2011, 14:51

Card issuer propoganda! :)

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Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune | 21 April, 2011, 09:58

This study lends credence to the school of thought to which I subscribe: NFC in single-purpose cards like Oyster makes transactions faster and more convenient. However, the moment it becomes multi-functional, shifts to a smartphone and makes the payer run an app at checkout, its speed and convenience benefits vaporize. 

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