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NFC in need of leadership

Week 48, 2012

One more operators’ consortium is formed, this time in Denmark. We’ve already seen operators’ consortia created in the US, Isis, in the UK, Weve, formerly called Oscar, and in many other places.

 

So far, many of them have first announced their will to go for common NFC projects, and then stepped back, either under regulatory pressure, or buried under overwhelming difficulties in finding common grounds. The Dutch consortium (with ABN Amro, ING, KPN, Rabobank and Vodafone) has even been disbanded (cf. Smart Insights Weekly #12-37). This time the Danish operators form their consortium, and, from the very beginning, announce a three-step plan, in which NFC is the fourth step!

 

At the same time, Isis, jumped into the NFC pool from day one, and after a long patience, has finally started its NFC pilot, in just two cities, with a handful of merchants. Now, commentators start to blame the consortium for poor customer adoption.

 

For NFC, does this mean that an operators’ consortium is not the best structure to develop the business? Or is it just a lack of leadership?

 

In Singapore, the government, namely, the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA), started a consortium to enable NFC mobile payments with all operators (M1, SingTel Mobile and StarHub Mobile), several financial institutions (Citibank Singapore, DBS Bank, MasterCard), merchants (Comfort Taxi, G2000, Pasta Mania, Watsons Convenience Stores, and more) and technology providers such as Gemalto (cf. Smart Insights Weekly #11-44). Now, a year later, the NFC mobile payment system is up and running.

 

In China, when China Mobile and China UnionPay announce NFC plans, they are not in need of adding other partners to represent a sufficient critical mass to start a countrywide business and change of behavior.

 

Thierry Spanjaard

Chief Editor

Smart Insights