Are You Ready for Mobile Payments?

I’ve been seeing some discussion lately about NFC (Near Field Communications). NFC is a short range communication technology that allows data to be transferred between devices. While NFC has existed for a while, it’s recently become news because of the speculation that Apple will be including NFC chips in the next version of the iPhone.

The holy grail of NFC is that it will allow payments via any mobile device. So far there have been trial implementations but the technology has not reached the mainstream. Retailers won’t install the hardware required to accept NFC payments until there is a broad consumer base and mobile manufactures have been reluctant to include a feature that will have limited adoption by retailers.

If Apple includes this technology in the iPhone it will provide the broad consumer base that retailers have been waiting for. iPhone users are already comfortable making purchases on their phones and this would be an easy extension of that functionality.

What’s in it for Apple? As this article points out, Apple now has a chance to grab a big chunk of the fees retailers had been paying to credit card companies for processing. If you’re a retailer this is definitely a technology you should be planning for. If you’re a consumer, then Apple is once again making it easier to part with your money.

Update: Since this was posted RIM announced that Blackberry’s would begin to support NFC in 2011 and Google has also expressed their support. Over to you Apple.