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Schuitema Tests NFC Phones in a C1000 Grocery Store

The Dutch retailer gave RFID-enabled phones to 100 customers, who use the devices to receive deposits from bottle-return machines, make charitable donations and pay for purchases.
By Claire Swedberg
At the checkout counter, a participant can utilize the phone to pay for the entire transaction, by once more presenting the phone to the NFC interrogator at the point-of-sale terminal, then entering a personal identification number (PIN). The amount owed is subtracted from the user's Rabobank banking account.

In the future, van Mierlo says he hopes to test other applications for RFID. In one scenario, the store would place RFID tags on shelves with ID numbers linked to data about products within the tags' vicinity. Consumers could then use the phones to read the shelf tags and obtain product information, such as a list of allergenic ingredients. Eventually, Van Mierlo envisions the participants using the NFC phones to read tags affixed to the shelves of items they intend to buy, allowing them to obtain a tally of purchased goods by the time they finish shopping.

Two weeks after the current pilot began, the participants were sent a questionnaire asking for reactions to the technology. According to van Mierlo, the responses indicated they were happy with the system thus far.

Full deployment of the technology is not likely until more NFC-enabled mobile phones are in use in the Netherlands, van Mierlo says, though he expects that to take place relatively soon. "Lots of people will need to have NFC chips in their phones," he states. "Like having a camera in the phone, in a few years I think we will see more NFC chips."

Moreover, van Mierlo says, more banks and stores will need to participate. "Merchants will need to have NFC technology in their PIN pads," he notes, adding that in the interest of spreading the technology, he intends to provide Schuitema's learnings to any inquiring retailers and banks. "If you can only use this in C1000 stores, people won't be interested. It is actually not possible to roll out this with only one retailer."

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