2013: the year of the cloud
Jan 02, 2013 (Datamonitor via COMTEX) --
The lackluster performance of NFC-based wallets globally compared to the relative success of cloud-based payment models using bar and QR codes suggests that the latter will continue to see rapid development in the year ahead.
As 2013 begins it is increasingly apparent that the most popular mobile payment systems launched over the past few years have all been cloud-based, including PayPal's mobile wallet platform, the Starbucks prepaid card app, and Pay with Square. The development of Passbook on the Apple platform further suggests that for the time being, any payments play by Apple is likely to be based on cloud and barcode systems rather than on NFC.
With high-profile NFC wallet-based systems - most notably Google Wallet and Isis - continuing to see lackluster consumer and merchant uptake, there remains a very real threat that merchants and investors alike will increasingly balk at the modest growth figures generated by these platforms compared to the headline-grabbing figures produced by PayPal, Square, and other cloud-based systems.
NFC holds many uses outside of payments, and the technology will continue to roll out in a variety of forms over the coming years. However, it is increasingly unlikely that NFC will be a major driver of mobile payments. Instead, it is more probable that cloud-based systems, which are more easily implemented and - crucially - are scalable, will lead the proximity mobile payments market, with NFC implementation likely to make an entry as a platform addition at a later date once the NFC ecosystem infrastructure is in place.
The market will not wait indefinitely for an NFC payments landscape to emerge, and with cloud-based payments now firmly established in the market, 2013 looks set to be a "cloudy" year.
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