Nearly 2 billion NFC devices will be in the wild by 2017
March 04, 2013

Mobile credit card payments continue to become a popular way for customers to pay for goods, as small businesses gain access to more options for mobile payments. Near field communication (NFC) technology is no exception. 

In fact, recent data collected by ABI Research suggests that opportunities for NFC-based mobile transactions will ramp up over the next few years. At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last week, the research company released findings that indicate more than 285 million NFC devices will be shipped worldwide over the course of the next 12 months. By 2017, there will 1.95 billion NFC-enabled smartphones and tablets in the hands of consumers, news outlet CNBC reports.

For small businesses, the proliferation of NFC technology offers more options in terms of being able to accept mobile payments. They can either use hardware to manually swipe credit and debit cards or finalize transactions by tapping devices at NFC touchpoints.

The Apple impact
However, NFC technology is still limited in its reach by Apple, which has o
pted to omit NFC chipsets from the latest version of the iPhone 5. Juniper Research, a separate technology intelligence provider, notes that Apple's refusal to include NFC technology in its smartphones may damage confidence in the chipset.

"This in turn will lead to lower NFC visibility amongst consumers and fewer opportunities to make payments, threatening a cycle of 'NFC indifference' in the short term," a report from Juniper Research explains.

The proliferation of NFC chipsets highlights the growing potential for mobile payments. However, NFC is just one component of the growing mobile transaction trend, and with a major smartphone manufacturer such as Apple opting not to support the technology, mobile payment processing hardware remains paramount to small business owners who want to accept payments through this means. Hardware attachments that enable businesses to turn any smartphone into a point-of-sale (POS) system may be the better option of the two for the foreseeable future.

Regardless of whether businesses use NFC technology or hardware attachments to carry out mobile transactions, the fact remains that mobile payments are becoming increasingly popular. IDC Financial Insights projects that by 2017, worldwide purchase volume through mobile devices will exceed the $1 trillion mark, so businesses need to at least offer the option to their customers to remain competitive.

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