UK greetings cards retailer discusses contactless ahead of NFC Payments Europe 2012.
Hype is building around the NFC payments revolution, with operators, banks, retailers issuers, chip makers, handset vendors and various 'over the top' players jostle to define a huge market opportunity.
All aspects of the space will be explored at NFC Payments Europe 2012 at The Royal Garden Hotel, London on June 13th and 14th.
In advance of the conference, here's a look at how one retailer – Clinton Cards – is preparing for the opportunity:
It takes a long time to change consumer behaviour, especially where payments are concerned. However, in the last couple of years, the UK public has slowly adapted to the idea of contactless transactions.
Marketing has helped, as has the sheer presence of terminals at the point of sale in hundreds of stores.
The fact that there is now is that there is a genuine payment infrastructure in place has encouraged companies like the UK-based high street greeting card company Clinton Cards to accelerate its activity in the space.
However, there's more to NFC than payments, and Clinton is advocating a careful introduction of new contactless services around loyalty before ploughing headlong into money transactions.
Robert Brown, EPOS systems manager at Clinton Cards, says: “Most people these days have contactless payment cards or at least will have shortly, so what is important is moving consumers on to mobile technology with smartphones. Google and Visa are making the first steps in to this and it’s just a matter of time before operators get involved.
"Currently we have not accepted any payment via mobile phone, but loyalty is a big subject that we want to address with mobile. We believe that mobile and NFC can help us achieve lots of new ideas, with regards to giving our customers a better service.”
The firm is now developing ideas around coupons and redemption that use NFC and is conscious of the need to train store staff as best as possible in advance of such a big shift.
Brown says: “We believe that the key to successful consumer adoption is not only in advertising but also in customer service delivered by our store staff. By enabling the store staff to engage with the consumer about NFC we stand a much better chance of the consumer using that technology the next time they visit our store."
While retailers like Clinton can do their best internally do address customer care and education, it takes an industry-wide solution to tackle what is arguably the biggest hurdle to NFC acceptance: security.
Basically, consumers need to feel as secure paying with their phones as they do making credit card purchases online from a computer.
Brown believes not enough has been done to date.
He says: “Security is a big factor with NFC, there has not been enough education for the consumer with regards to security of NFC enabled handsets. The ads that have come from Barclays/Barclaycard do not tell the consumer anything about NFC/Contactless, so more needs to be done by the card Issuers/Banks/MPOs to get the message across to consumers."
In addition to security, Brown also cites other issues including hardware faults relating to ESD (Electro Static Discharge) and accreditation.
However, Clinton - like most retailers - believes that these problems will be overcome and then mobile NFC will achieve mass market acceptance.
“I would expect a slow but steady growth leading up to 2014 while the technology matures," he says. "Once 2014 has arrived I would expect that the NFC add on solutions will take the technology and adoption on to the next level."
* Robert Brown will be speaking at NFC Payments Europe 2012. For more information click here.