Telcos tap new tech to drive m-commerce

Written by Nikita Upadhyay | Nikita Upadhyay | Mumbai | Updated: May 21 2012, 09:01am hrs
What could revolutionise the way telecom companies are pushing mobile commerce or mobile money is a little known technology near field communication (NFC).

The technology, that can help boost social networking, like sharing contacts, photos, videos or entering multiplayer mobile games, will enable phones to double up as credit or debit cards, thanks to an embedded chip. Handset makers Nokia, Samsung and Research In Motion (RIM) have phone models that are NFC-enabled.

We have NFC-enabled handsets in the sub-R5,000 range, said Vipul Mehrotra, director and head (smart devices), Nokia India, at the first NFC India Summit 2012 held in Mumbai last week. We are familiarising users with the technology by enabling them to tap two NFC phones against each other and share music and files. India is a nascent, but long-term and promising market for NFC payments, he added.

According to mobile research firm Juniper Research, the global NFC market is expected to touch $34.5 billion by 2016. NFC-enabled phones will comprise 50% of the total handsets available then.

Tata Teleservices, which has been lagging behind other operators in introducing mobile payments service, said that the company is considering a number of payment initiatives that will be launched later this year. The Indian market is in the pilot stage for NFC, said Rajesh Gandhi, additional vice-president (VAS technology and enterprise solutions). We have to create an ecosystem, familiarise users, incentivise them and give them a good NFC user experience.

aTuch, a company that develops cloud-based NFC solutions for businesses in USA has entered India to popularise applications for consumers, its founder and director Alok Patel said. The firm will be showcasing its solutions to media and pre-school organisations. In India, NFC-based transactions are implemented in box offices for ticketing purposes.

We are in the process of developing chipsets, which would enable your phone to work as your credit or debit card, said Anthony Esthakku, chief manager (mobile and NFC payments), National Payments Corporation of India. This chip would work seamlessly across all merchant outlets. NFC devices were introduced in the market in 2006.

We provide instant payments and coupon delivery using your handset, as we do with your credit card or debit card in mature markets, said Tapio Vailahti, director NFC Solutions, Gisecke & Devrient, which has a development office in Pune. In China, NFC is being used all over the country in the public bus transport system.