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BizReport : Ecommerce archives : May 18, 2011

Millions of mobile users in UK ready for NFC

Near-field communication has long been used in parts of Asia but it is yet to be commonplace in the US and UK. However, with NFC devices hitting the UK market soon, new research finds that one in five mobile users in the UK is looking forward to using the technology and some forward-thinking businesses are kitting themselves out to take full advantage of their eagerness.

by Helen Leggatt

Near-field communications technology will allow mobile users to pay for products and services with just the swipe of their device.

With phone models soon to be released in the UK that have contactless near-field communication capabilities, are the country's mobile users ready to use it?

According to a poll of 17,000 people in the UK by Acxiom, just over 20% of mobile users are ready for NFC - that's around 6.8 million people.

The McDonald's chain is readying their restaurants in the UK for the NFC revolution by installing NFC checkouts in all their 1,200 or so restaurants. Reports say this will be completed by the end of this month (May 2011).

"The number of cards with contactless capability among the customer base at the moment is low. But we recognize that contactless near-field communications capability will soon be in many customers' hands. We believe that having this technology now will help drive people into our restaurants," Mark Fabes, IT director for McDonald's in the UK, told Computing.

Consumers don't just want to use NFC to pay for items at the store or on transport. They also want to receive coupons and offers in real-time.

"The research indicates that 15% of respondents are willing to share their details with brands via NFC in return for targeted offers and promotions that are of value to them," said Gaurang Vartikar, Acxiom Europe's head of mobile.

"Brands now quickly need to understand who these supporters of NFC are, what they spend their money on and what they will use the new services for in order to send them targeted, relevant offers."

Single female homeowners aged 25 to 44, living in urban areas and earning up to $65k per year were found to be more likely to use NFC for coupons and loyalty points than for making payments.

However, students and large families showed a greater amount of interest in using their mobile devices to make day-to-day payments, but were still interested in receiving coupons and loyalty points.

Tags: m-commerce, mobile retail, mobile technology, near-field communications, NFC

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