2012 could be a big year for NFC in Singapore
October 26, 2011 by Terence LEE
Singapore may become one of the first nations in the world to see widespread adoption of near-field communication as a payment mode, if this report by Channel NewsAsia is accurate.
Up to 20,000 retail points and taxis may be NFC-enabled by middle of 2012, the result of a S$40 million (US$31 million) investment by the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore and seven other companies.
They are: Mobile operators M1, SingTel and StarHub, payment service providers Citibank, DBS and EZ-Link, as well as Gemalto, a digital security company.
NFC is a technology that functions like Bluetooth, except that it works almost instantaneously and does not require one device to be ‘linked’ to another.
By tapping an NFC-enabled phone with another similar phone or an NFC tag, which can be embedded into outdoor advertising and other media, users can send or receive content, play multiplayer games, exchange namecards, or pay for items.
IDA is still looking for more partners to come on board.
Merchants who are already accepting contactless payment cards from MasterCard, Visa, or CEPAS will be able to use the new technology.
Eager early adopters who want to try out the technology will need an NFC-enabled phone. Otherwise, they would need to install a bridging device. The iPhone4 and iPhone4S, which is the most popular smartphone in Singapore, has no NFC capability.
In the US, trail runs are already underway by Google Wallet to enable NFC payments.
So far, the technology, which has been around since 2004, has seen a rather slow adoption rate, mainly due to the infrastructure needed as well as buy-in from a large number of partners.
Nonetheless, all the crucial players are pretty much on board (except Apple), and all the technology needs to take off is mass adoption.
Personally, I’m pretty stoked that EZ-Link is involved — which means I may be able to take the train using just my mobile phone. I hope banks like OCBC would sign up as well, and also companies like Google Wallet, Visa, and PayPal.
Depending on how this trial goes, the next phone I purchase might just be an NFC-enabled Android phone.
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About The Author
Terence LEE - Editor
Terence writes mainly about technology trends and startups in Asia. He believes in crafting smart content: Not just a regurgitation of text, but well thought-out pieces that serve the reader using a combination of data, design, narratives, analysis, and visual impact. His articles have been published on Venturebeat, Yahoo!, Straits Times, Today, and The Online Citizen. He also co-founded NewNation.sg, a satirical news site covering Singapore affairs. Engage him on LinkedIn and Twitter.Read other posts by Terence LEE