Near Field Communications (NFC)

Enhanced capabilties mean more for mobile marketers

Did you get a smartphone for the holidays?  Of course not, you already had one.  And if you did get one, it’s a lot better than the one you had before.  But you know who did get one for the first time?  My mom.  And of course I’m the first point of contact when it comes to questions about her new phone, like “How do I turn this on?” or “Where are the buttons for dialing?”  This is just my own personal example of how mobile phones are becoming more ubiquitous in everyone’s lives.  Yes Mom, that includes yours too.

But how much do we really need our phones?  It’s our connection to our friends, family and basically the outside world.  But 2013 shows us that mobile technology is going to be more than that and partly because of a tool called Near Field Communications (NFC).

Similar to Bluetooth and wireless, NFC allows mobile devices to communicate with a transmission device safely and securely.  Here are some examples of what NFC will bring to the future.  And brace yourselves people, some of it is already here.  Again Mom, I’m talking to you.

  • Purchases:  You will be able to use your phone like a credit or debit card. You will be able to make purchases simply by scanning an app on your phone.  The Google Wallet (an app for android) already allows you to make purchases with store credit at designated terminals.


  • Transportation:  Your mobile device will have the capability to unlock the doors of your car, open garages, and even adjust your seats for you.  Don’t drive?  Don’t worry.  You can also pay for your bus or subway pass by simply scanning your phone at the gates.  You can even get information on schedules by tapping your phone at the nearest kiosk.


  • Friends:  You can exchange information such as your contact list, photos, videos, or other files with friends simply by being in close proximity with each other or just by tapping phones. It’s much quicker and does not incur costs compared to messaging the information.


  • Home:  The app ShareKey allows you to use your phone as a spare key.  Thought you couldn’t leave home without your phone now?  Well soon enough, without your phone you won’t be able to get back in it (


These are just a few examples of the capabilities that NFC will have to offer in the near future and further possibilities seem endless.

But let’s get to the main point already.  What does this mean for marketers?

NFC is similar to QR codes in that they have the ability to offer coupons and promotions, but now they require less work.  QR codes require the user to take out their phone, open the app and scan the QR code.  I know this doesn’t seem like that much work, but with QR codes starting to appear everywhere, all that scanning starts becoming a hassle.  And c’mon people, this is America.  If there’s an easier way to do something, we want it.

With NFC, all it requires is coming in close proximity of a transmission device and BAM!  I just got a discount coupon for Mean Girls on Blu-ray (don’t judge me).  This makes the consumer experience much more enjoyable and allows marketers to target at the point of purchase.  Win Win.  Additional marketing opportunities include offering nearby services and promoting events in your area.

Here’s where it gets good though.  NFC can also retrieve personal information about the consumer.  This allows for more granular targeting and can provide metrics on who is buying what.  And all this can be seen in real-time!  Hello optimization.

What it comes down to is the consumer experience.  If consumers can seamlessly receive offers and promotions from a brand, they will mentally file that away as a positive experience and interaction with YOUR brand. Hello engagement.

Marketers should start planning ahead now.  Mobile is the future so hold on tight…to your phones that is.

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