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Sticky stickers

Week 15, 2009

Most of us, in the secure transaction industry anticipate a huge demand for mobile payment functionality, based on NFC technology. Industry analysts are unanimously positive about the future of NFC, and returns from pilot users show enthusiasm for the solution. Unfortunately, due to a standardization process that needed more time than anticipated, the lengthy elaboration of a commonly accepted business model, and the lack of choice regarding handsets, the NFC market is not yet developing as expected. Stickers appear as an acceptable alternative, or at least as an interim solution, while NFC handsets are not commonly available and a complete business model involving all stakeholders is not finalized.

But stickers only deliver a small part of the NFC promise. The advantage of NFC, as established in its technology model, or as demonstrated with pilots is to add a keyboard, a display, and communication capability to payment functions. The only thing a contactless payment sticker proposes is the payment function without the additional features. Twinlinx, a France based startup is developing a hybrid sticker that communicates in NFC and Bluetooth modes allowing to get closer to fulfilling the NFC promise (cf. Smart Insights #07-19).

The major risk with an interim solution happens when users like it! The industry expects users will realize using a handset to perform payments brings a new convenience, and will ask the mobile industry (network operators and handset vendors together) for a better integration between the payment function and the handset. But what if users like it so much that they are happy with the sticker form factor? Because of an interim technology, NFC adoption may be slowed down, or delayed for ever.

So, are we going to stick with stickers?

Thierry Spanjaard
Chief Editor
Smart Insights