NFC - Near Future Concerns
Wave a wand and the doors will open.
Assuming you have the right software in the wand, enough credit, the wand is a Near Field Communication (NFC) mobile handset and the doors are subway entrance gates.
Also, assuming that a commercial system is in place.
Far? Possibly. Far fetched? Not quite, with more than a hundred pilot projects conducted across the globe, several commercial projects, and an undeniably strong commitment from some of the largest players in the market, commercial NFC rollouts are very near, however, all such rollouts begin on a small scale.
It might be some time before an elaborate system with many, many participants comes into order, and some time before a full spectrum of end users are considered NFC users.
An unaddressed issue however, is the necessary laws and policies to regulate an NFC ecosystem comprising of multiple Telco operators, banks, payment gateways, electronic ticketing vendors and the list goes on.
From the launch of a commercial NFC system, the user base will gradually grow, so will the number of operators offering such services, and the applications available to end users.
Much like the early days of mobile phone networks, end users were fiercely defended and secured by each service provider.
Nearly all service providers imposed the stick, carrot and hurdle to their clients. Long term contracts were imposed with penalties included, fair enough some might say; if the clients agreed to the contract in the first place. Attractive marketing gimmicks were deployed, point systems, free talk time, family plans and so forth. Be it profit margin reducing or healthy competition is arguable.
Perhaps more importantly are the hurdles that were in place; changing mobile phone numbers, even more so, mobile network operators was a major hassle, allowing for a near-monopoly on clients.
Hence, Mobile Number Portability (MNP) was formed. Typically motivated by government mandates and often set up and monitored by government agencies. It has become a necessity to encourage healthy competition.
With NFC services, applications and services (which include credit cards, rapid transit ticketing, functional applications and so on) will be bound to certain service providers, who are always keen to expand their market and maintain their customers.
It might take time before we look into the intricacies of service and application portability in the NFC ecosystem. And it might only be necessary once NFC adoption reaches saturation. Or it could be a present necessity that hasn’t gained much attention.
We will no doubt have to wait for more participants to join in the value chain before an ecosystem exists, but investigations and evaluation has to begin now.
Application and service portability are a necessity; it’s all a question of how it will be conducted. Healthy competition can be inculcated from the very beginning. Changes will eventually be made, rules and regulations amended, providing the participants and governing bodies with all the necessary experience and expertise.
Players in the NFC field could ask for it, governing agencies could show an interest, lest we wait for the situation to be critical and only then provide a knee jerk reaction.