Paying With Your Mobile – What’s NFC Technology

178370626Researcher and Vice President Australia at the Global Institute for Cyber Security and Research, Craig S Wright, rewired and encoded a glove to function using near field communication (NFC) technology. Wearing this glove, he walked into a local Woolworths, picked up some groceries, and paid – literally – with a wave of his hand.

Major financial institutions continue down the path of making this ‘no cash’ dream into a reality for everyday transactors. Visa Paywave and Mastercard PayPass are now de rigeur  at many large retailers, with some banks facilitating use of mobile phone devices as NFC conduits.

Gone are the days of searching for your wallet. The wasted moments finding the right card. The swiping and waiting. Now payments happen with a single touch.”

The latest NFC announcement is Apple Pay, whereby you can use the new iPhone 6 or Apple Watch  to swipe and go. So is this the idyllic future we all want, or does NFC technology carry a certain amount of risk to avoid?

What’s great about NFC technology?

  • Travel light. Never again do you need to sift through bags full of coins for your morning cup of coffee. Simply wave your phone at the counter, and you’ve settled your bill.
  • Easy budgeting. It’s simple enough to draft a budget for your expenses, but it becomes a tedious affair when you have to manually enter in receipts and savings in cash money. Going cashless – whether by card or phone – means you’ll have an easy paper trail to follow.
  • Bank, regardless of reception. You should still be able to make payments, even when your phone cannot get reception, as the data only has to go a short distance from your phone to the payment station to work.

What are the potential downsides to this?

  • Battery life. If your battery dies just as your finish your grocery shop, your face is going to be red when you reach the checkout. Worse still, you can’t call your partner/mum/best friend to bail you out, because you can’t call them. May need that backup Apple Watch…
  • Your phone could be stolen. If your phone is snatched, you’re again in trouble – no more so than when you lose your credit card, but it’s arguably easier to lose a phone than a wallet or purse.
  • Fees. Using credit cards or bank cards all the time instead of cash carries the risk of extra transaction fees. You could manage this simply by being aware of all your card’s fees and restrictions.
  • Travel restrictions. While some countries may be quick to adopt this form of technology, others may not – leaving you with a very groovy phone app that has little use when you’re abroad.

Although there are both pros and cons, chances are the technology will eventually replace your card. After all, with Apple on board NFC will surely become a lot more popular.

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