NFC Payments – What's In It For Me, the Customer?

The dust has settled. After much speculation, Apple finally announced NFC payment technology in the iPhone 6 and in the new AppleWatch via ApplePay. Working in the payments space, it’s something we’ve all been anticipating – and waiting for. Personally, I firmly believe that Apple’s engagement in payments will accelerate both consumer adoption and business acceptance of mobile payments. Yes, I’m aware that Apple’s smartphone market share continues to drop, primarily because of their product void in the low-end market. But, also remember that Apple has a very strong and powerful user group, comprised of true brand advocates. In full disclosure (if you haven’t already guessed) I’m one of those advocates.

A few months ago I tried NFC payments on my iPhone through the NFC enabled case (Incipio Cashwrap™) that powers the SoftCard™ formerly Isis™) Mobile Wallet. My user experience with the case and NFC was mixed. One challenge was the fact that the case required an Android charger, which was provided, but that was the only one I had. The case made my phone a tad bulky, which took some getting used to as well. But the major hurdle for me was the lack of opportunity to pay with NFC in my day-to-day life. The only place I semi-regularly visit that was advocating and accepting NFC at the time was Toys ‘R’ Us. Often, I’d end up awkwardly removing my phone and ‘tapping’ it subtly on a terminal that wasn’t NFC enabled – then pulling out my card quickly to pay via plastic. Needless to say after a month, I took the case off only because I really didn’t have the opportunity to pay by phone with NFC.

Interestingly, over the last two months, I’ve witnessed a movement in NFC enabled check-out as well as promotion of NFC. My local Whole Foods recently swapped out their old terminals, moving to a customized interface that clearly promotes NFC acceptance on the main screen. Pretty cool. Even on a smaller scale I noticed that my local (6 total stores) grocery market now promotes NFC acceptance at the check-out. As a customer, my biggest challenge in the past was not having anywhere to use NFC payments, but with ApplePay as a stimuli and growing retail acceptance, I expect this to change pretty rapidly, especially if companies can leverage the inherent technology features within NFC (like two-way communication) to improve my overall shopping experience and drive their bottom line sales.

As a customer, I view the WIIFM (what’s in it for me) as being:

  • Convenience – load your card into the mobile wallet and go. It’s quick and easy! And time is money, even for an individual consumer.
  • Value – it’s never been about the payment for companies like Google, Apple, Amazon, PayPal or SoftCard. I would venture to say the same applies for the consumer, especially when it comes down to the preferred wallet. In the end it’s about value – what I get for paying with my smartphone and for shopping in your store – discounts, loyalty, offers, or points.
  • Relevance – in the spirit of marketing via the payment interaction, it’s all about data. To keep customers engaged with your business and coming back, you have to do it right. And, that’s not about spending more, it’s about finding the right solution for your business and your target customers. Ensure that offers and discounts are relevant to the audience and to the individual.
  • Consistency – is key! Do the research up front and choose a solution that works for your business (and is scalable) to deliver a consistent experience for your customers.


While the wait isn’t officially over since I don’t have my new iPhone 6 in hand, I am excited about the move to mobile payments and what it means for me as a customer.