CHICAGO - In case anyone was looking for evidence that OEMs are taking NFC seriously, Inside Secure, a maker of NFC chips, announced it has shipped more than 10 million MicroRead and SecuRead NFC solutions to date this year to multiple manufacturers of a broad range of mobile NFC devices.
"If there was ever tangible evidence needed that NFC is no longer science fiction, but a technology that is about to hit the streets, this is it,” said Nick Holland, senior analyst at Yankee Group, in a statement. “Clearly, NFC is here and now.”
Earlier this year, Yankee Group projected $1 trillion in mobile payments by 2015. While the same report shows active NFC users in 2015 at about half the number of active mobile banking users, NFC will undoubtedly continue to grow as a payment option for consumers going forward.
Charles Walton, COO for Inside Secure, says the company’s shipments are a clear indicator that the technology has finally arrived, but he says the real power behind 10 million chips this year is that these are still early.
“We’re obviously thrilled to have gotten to this mark, but this is for sure year one on enablement and that’s actually really good news,” he says.
Inside Secure is providing NFC chips for a number of RIM’s BlackBerry devices – the BlackBerry 9900, 9930, the Bold and the three recently announced Curve units.
“To me, what’s very meaningful about providing for these devices is that these are RIM’s mainstream products, which says they’re putting NFC in their core stuff,” Walton says, comparing these early days of NFC to the advent of Bluetooth, which is now a standard feature on most devices.
Walton calls 2012 a building year for the technology, with 2013 and 2014 representing years of huge shipments as OEMs start embedding NFC chips in devices beyond just smartphones.
While payments seem to be top of mind whenever NFC is mentioned, Walton says the technology is driving an entire ecosystem around mobile commerce. “It’s really about the integral experience of interacting at a retailer,” he says. “It includes everything from payment, receive coupon, receive receipt to other offers, providing the merchant other information. So I think we’ll begin to find that the notion of waving my mobile device to create an effect is going to be very prevalent.”
But with all these different players – Google Wallet and Sprint on one side and ISIS and the rest on the other – is there any danger of fragmentation? Walton says that’s definitely a concern and one Inside Secure hopes to address. In many respects, a lot of the standards in this area already have been defined, but standards around retailer applications have yet to be defined.
“There’s not a good retailer forum for defining how coupon or a loyalty object or a receipt should be exchanged… So we’re actually suggesting a framework, a very simple authentication, to allow the bridging of some of these disparate standards.”