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NFC Forum Survey Shows Strong Consumer Interest in NFC Applications

The organization released the findings of a four-week study indicating that while consumers have limited experience with Near Field Communication, they would be eager to try a number of non-payment applications.
By Claire Swedberg
Feb 12, 2015

The NFC Forum, a nonprofit industry association dedicated to advancing the use of Near Field Communication (NFC), has released the results of a survey that finds U.S. consumers have strong interest in using NFC technology for a variety of applications. The survey, carried out online, asked 1,038 participants about their interest in using NFC in six different retail scenarios: accessing store deals and rewards; accessing information about merchandise and store inventory; downloading other product-related information, such as a recipe; accessing a digital shopping cart; gathering information about large, expensive products; and ordering related consumables, such as printer ink and toner.

In five of these use cases, the survey showed that more than twice as many consumers preferred NFC to the leading alternative.

The survey also asked consumers about which kinds of information they would be willing to share in order to receive personalized rewards and deals via NFC.

The results of the survey, undertaken by research firm Strategy Analytics in September 2014, were released in a report titled "NFC Technology: How Changing Consumer Preferences Create New Opportunities for Retailers." The report concluded that the time is right for retailers to begin NFC deployments, according to the consortium, based on the quantity of NFC-enabled smartphones in consumers' hands, as well as their perceived interest in the technology as expressed by the study's participants.

The NFC Forum was formed in 2004 by a group of mobile communications, semiconductor and consumer electronics companies. Its mission is the advance of NFC usage through the ensuring of interoperability, specifications development and education.

The survey did not attempt to determine the number of NFC deployments that already existed, or how many NFC-enabled phone owners actually use this built-in functionality. The quantity of NFC deployments and users is low, says Christopher Dodge, the associate director of Strategy Analytics' user experience practice, though he notes that while NFC awareness is relatively low, the survey was fielded prior to Apple's launch of ApplePay, which has likely had a positive impact on consumer awareness and use of NFC since that time, he speculates.

Windsor Holden, the head of forecasting and consultancy at U.K.-based analytics firm Juniper Research, says that while the ApplePay program does not directly affect deployments of NFC technology for non-payment applications, such as product promotions by retailers or brand owners, it has raised consumer awareness. "We believe that, fueled by Apple Pay/Passbook in the U.S., [the non-payment NFC sector] should see around 50 million NFC coupons redeemed annually by 2018," he says. "As more people utilize NFC for payment and gain affinity with it, so the wider retail opportunity [for NFC] opens up." Of the NFC-enabled handsets currently in the marketplace—approximately 320 million by the end of 2014 worldwide—about 4 percent of those, he adds, were used for NFC-based contactless payments in the United States, while the contactless payment usage rate was higher in Europe: 12 percent.

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