It’s curious that Near Field Communications (NFC) payments, so popular in Japan, have not taken off in regions outside of Asia. Sure, the mobile ecosystem in Japan is more mature and complex than in other countries, but vendors and consumers in other regions have been slow to pick up on this trend, even with the radical changes in use that have come about with the iPhone’s stunning last two years. NFC payments will grow, albeit slowly, according to Juniper research which predicts that global NFC payments will exceed $30 billion by 2012 and reach $110 billion by 2014. The research company projects this year’s NFC revenue to be $9 billion.

"Many people focus on the use of NFC for payments but in fact it is poised to revolutionize the way many people shop too,” said the report’s author, Howard Wilcox.

One in six mobile users will have an NFC-enabled device by 2014. Driving the growth in payments will be other new technologies like smart posters.

"The ability to tap smart posters and receive coupons and product information also presents new channels to market for merchants,” Wilcox said.

"Whilst vendors see widespread availability of NFC phones in future, the jury is out as whether interim solutions will attract users or actually have a detrimental effect,” Wilcox said.

Twenty-five million customers in Japan use the Felicia mobile wallet for contactless payment, but the global market will really not mature until after 2011.

In San Francisco, testing mobile contactless payments on the BART transit system seems to be becoming an annual affair, as the system tested it out in 2008 and 2009. No word on when a permanent roll-out will take place, though.

(Image: Wikipedia)

By Mark Alvarez