A limited-edition Samsung Galaxy S III smartphone, with Visa's NFC-based payWave mobile app, may be just the push the mobile payment market needs.
A limited edition of the Samsung
Galaxy S III super-phone will be paired with some super humans this summer.
Samsung- and Visa-sponsored athletes and trialists participating in the London
2012 Olympic Games will each receive their own special edition of the
smartphone, enabled with Visa's new payWave mobile payment application, the two
companies announced May 9.
It's good advertising for Samsung, certainly. But more, it could help to
push mobile payments into the mainstream. Despite the inclusion of near-field communications
(NFC) technology in a number of handsets, and backing from dozens of major
retailers, as well as credit card companies, wireless carriers and mobile phone
makers, the technology has yet to find much traction among U.S. consumers.
The Galaxy S III, with its half-dozen sensors
for intuiting a user's desires, may also prove a particularly good
ambassador for the mobile payments, which require a user to simply tap an
NFC-enabled phone to a small terminal at the register. In the case of Visa's
payWave, purchases above approximately $30 will require the user to type in a
"By the time of the Olympic Games, there will be more than 140,000
contactless terminals around the UK," Samsung and Visa said in a joint
statement. "From the moment visitors land at Heathrow they will be
immersed in a contactless payment experience with everything from taxis to
retail outlets to the Olympic Park itself."
Bill Gajda, Visa's global head of mobile products, added, "This summer
we will be demonstrating the future of payments in Londona future where most
consumers will rely on mobile devices, tablets and PCs to manage their daily
Research firm Berg Insight expects global sales of NFC-equipped phones to
reach 700 million units by 2016up from 2011's 30 million phones. More
importantly, the technology inside those phones is expected to get some use.
Juniper Research expects transactions from NFC-based services to total $50
billion worldwide by 2014.
By that time, Juniper also expects NFC to be in one out of five smartphones.
In May 2011, Google launched its NFC-based Google Wallet on the Samsung
Nexus S 4G, with Executive Chairman Eric
Schmidt predicting that a third of checkout terminals in restaurants and
retail stores would allow NFC mobile payments within a year's time.
If that guess was a little off, it wasn't from a lack of trying by everyone
but consumers. Verizon Wireless has a Payfone, browser-based mobile payment
app, but is also part of the NFC-based Isis solution with AT&T and
has a QkR app that lets it get in the NFC game, and electronics maker LG
has also tried to encourage the mobile payments market with its Optimus LTE
Tag, a "phablet" with not just NFC inside but NFC stickers, or tags,
that device owners can use to implement demandsfor example, swiping a tag upon
entering one's office could put the phone on vibrate and make the device revert
Research In Motion, in November, even kicked off a pilot plan with Spain's
telecom giant Telefonica, equipping 350 Telefonica employees with NFC-equipped
phones that can do everything from make payments to gain them access to their
"We're getting ever closer to the point where our customers will be
able to take the contents of their wallets and put them on their mobiles,"
Telefonica CEO Matthew Key said
at the time.
Visa and Samsung hope to bring us still that much closer.
Michelle Maisto has been covering the enterprise mobility space for a decade, beginning with Knowledge Management, Field Force Automation and eCRM, and most recently as the editor-in-chief of Mobile Enterprise magazine. She earned an MFA in nonfiction writing from Columbia University, and in her spare time obsesses about food. Her first book, The Gastronomy of Marriage, if forthcoming from Random House in September 2009.