As if to prove Peter Cochrane’s (and our own) thesis that large companies cannot innovate, ISIS and their fixation with NFC for payments is looking more and more like a car crash in slow motion. As we have said several times before, NFC is similar to IMS in how it will evolve. Five years ago IMS was in everybody’s strategic development plan for the next two years – and nobody knew why (we asked). There were conferences and parties and webinars and the whole thing looked like a circus and fed conference organisers and trade bodies for years.
NFC will find its place. Its place is in the background, gluing together and providing a window into a whole universe of content. As Denee Carrington, a senior analyst with Forrester said, at the recent Mobile Shopping Summit, “I am not bullish on NFC in the U.S. I think NFC has some great capabilities and will be adopted over time, I just don’t think the best use case for NFC is payments.”
And busy driving nails into its coffin is ISIS, still at the wheel of the above mentioned, about to crash, car. Astonishingly they have invented an NFC case so that iPhone users can use NFC for payments when they roll out nationally. The last three words are in italics because you won’t be able to hear the laughter from where you are sitting. The fact that Apple has publicly not put NFC into its iPhones and then continued to not put NFC into its iPhones should have provided a hint. While all and sundry were wondering why Apple had not put said NFC into said iPhone, a much better question, surely, is why would they?
If they do, it will have very little to do with payments. For ISIS to do it for them – perhaps they think they are being helpful to the misguided workers of Cupertino – is madness. Apple, with iTunes, has the slickest payments platform on this planet. It does not need help. In fact, it only has two problems.
The first problem is that it is too expensive and the merchant classes are getting restless. The second is that in emerging economies there are relatively few credit cards and massive demand for, well, anything and everything digital.
For these two reasons, companies that offer Direct Operator Billing such as Telefonica Digital have set up camp outside Apple Central in Cupertino, waiting for an invitation to talk. Consider – emerging economies, plus few credit cards, plus low cost iPhones, plus the reach of Direct Operator Billing.
Who knows, the phone call may come sooner than they think.