How will you pay for that next leather wallet you buy? Google is betting you will use an NFC-enabled phone.
The launch of Google’s wallet service on September 19th, 2011 should help pave the market for new NFC-enabled solutions beyond just payments. How quickly consumers actually embrace the idea of reaching for their cellphone, instead of their wallet, is still debatable. But with trusted payment brands like Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and Amex marketing the benefits, I think it is a safe bet to expect meaningful market penetration over the next few years. Major advertising campaigns for this new mode of payment should begin in earnest this holiday season, especially with the other NFC-enabed handsets on the near horizon, besides the Nexus-S.
While transacting payments is the key theme for NFC technology right now, liberating consumers from their wallets may require more replacement capabilities. Look inside the average wallet and you will find a laundry list of stuff: coupons, receipts, drivers license, insurance & ID cards, memberships, reward cards, access control cards, and more. It’s hard to argue that any of these physical artifacts are not replaceable by an electronic counterpart. So expect to see a growing ecosystem of virtual wallet capabilities emerge to offer serious competition to the physical wallet. It may take another twenty years, but like the wrist-watch, your wallet will probably be considered a fashion accessory and not a utility.