For years there has been talk about NFC being the next big thing in the mobile space, but NFC has been slow to take off. But if MWC is an indication of what is to come this year, and it usually is, then 2013 just might be the year of NFC after all.
This year at GSMA Mobile World Congress, NFC was rampantly used around the show floor thanks to the NFC Experience. Sony partnered with Telefonica, Visa, Accenture, and several other partners to bring NFC to the show floor in all kinds of ways. For example, thanks to the NFC experience, attendees, exhibitors and vendors were able to use NFC-enabled handsets to exchange information and conduct transactions at locations throughout Fira Gran Via and in Barcelona.
Furthermore, for the first time ever, MWC attendees were able to enter the show floor each day just by tapping their NFC phone onto an NFC tag. Ordinarily, entering the show requires showing your badge and taking out your I.D. But we quickly discovered that using the NFC Badge app on our Sony Xperia T smartphone was a heck of a lot more convenient, not too mention a lot safer, then having to pull out our passport each time.
But NFC wasn’t just used as a badge on the show floor. There were also many NFC interactive Zones and Smart posters set up around the show floor. These zones and posters allows users to get quick access to exhibitor directories, and venue and conference information, just by tapping on the NFC enabled tags on the smart posters scattered through out the Fira Gran Via.
In addition, customers could touch and pay at NFC enabled payment terminals located at the Fira Gran Via, and even around the city of Barcelona. In particular, the Sony Xperia handset came preloaded with the Telefonica Wallet app which uses the Via mobile contact-less payment app. The app let us purchase food and drinks from NFC-enabled point of sale terminals. As a matter of fact, in time for the show, there have been more than 15,000 contact-less enabled POS terminals set up in retail outlets around Barcelona.
Last but not least, the city of Barcelona collaborated with Mobile World Capital to provide NFC information points around the city – at the airport, restaurants, popular tourist locations, and even taxi cabs. By tapping these tags, smartphone users got to receive discounts offers, information downloads and quick access to mobile apps.
And although the NFC experience was compatible with most NFC capable smartphones, the Sony Xperia T smartphone was the official handset for the NFC experience at MWC. The Sony Xperia T is a mid-range smartphone that packs in a 4.6″ HD Reality Display powered by the Bravia engine, a 13MP Exmor camera with 1080P video recording, all of which is powered by a 1.5GHZ Dual Core processor. In particular, we were impressed with how sharp, colorful and bright the display is on this smartphone. It also offers capable performance thanks to its 1.5GHZ Dual Core processor. Last but not least, its fast performing camera blew us away with all of the great photos and video we were able to take on the show floor.
According to GSMA, over 10,500 attendees participated in the NFC Experience. If there is one thing we discovered from the NFC experience at MWC, it’s that NFC can really make everyday tasks more convenient. We also observed that there are many more innovative ways that NFC can be used, many of which had never occurred to us before. It turns out that NFC is not just about making contact-less payments and pairing wireless speakers with your phone, but it’s about making your mobile device a more interactive tool with the world. Now it’s up to companies to drive people to adopt NFC, and we think that the best way they could do that is by offering incentives in the form of rewards programs and discounts.
Partners in the NFC Experience included Sony Mobile Communications, CaixaBank, Telefónica, Visa, Gemalto, INSIDE Secure, Hotel Santos Porta Fira, Assa Abloy, Accenture, Connecthings, Open Trends, Ajuntament de Barcelona and Mobile World Capital.