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NFC chips lie unused

+Comment Oh, what a surprise. NFC has failed to ignite the imagination of iPhone users, with 90 per cent of them shunning the payment method of the future.

This is among the findings of stats-loving website InfoScout, which reports that of the approximately 20 million or so iPhone 6s which have been sold, 18 million have never been used with ApplePay.

Infoscout reports that those remaining two million users who have lost their bonking virginity think of it as quick, easy, convenient and safe but only use it as a transaction method half of the time. When they choose not to pay for goods and services with ApplePay, it is mainly because they didn’t know that bonking was on offer or they simply forgot, they told the survey-slingers.

Within the majority who have never tried it, many say ApplePay is a mystery to them and they either didn’t know how it worked or hadn’t even heard of it. Nearly a third were quite happy with the way they paid.

This compares quite well with the experience of Transport for London (TfL), which found that in the first million contactless card – as opposed to Oyster – transactions, 0.01 per cent used phones. Those 10,000 transactions might sound like a lot, but that's the total over two weeks when TfL does many millions of transactions a day and could represent as few as a thousand individuals out of the millions on the buses and tube.

It’s not a technical issue: only five per cent of the 50 per cent of the 10 per cent group of people who "sometimes" used NFC on iPhones (that’s 50,000 – or 0.25 per cent of the 20 million users surveyed) didn’t use Apple Pay when they could on Black Friday, because they had tried registering with ApplePay and couldn’t get it to work. That’s still more people than would fill the Chelsea stadium. ®


Three years ago Franco Bernabè – former CEO of Telecom Italia Group and ex-chairman of the GSMA – predicted that NFC would be using the Single Wire Protocol and we’d see $50bn of transactions (a year) in three years' time.

When he said, that I pointed out that it was a rash statement. Apple’s move means Single Wire Protocol is dead and the lack of acceptance of even ApplePay means that contactless in phones is as much an “experiment” as it was a decade ago. Weve, for example, has seen a lot of failures. My prediction is that in March we’ll see new high-end phones at Mobile World Congress which do not have NFC, the start of the slide which will condemn the technology to the same fate as Push To Talk and Universal Mobile Access, which were also passing enthusiasms for the mobile networks. ®

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