Saturday, March 20, 2010

Old tech pretending to be new tech?

Recognizing the excitement around everything mobile, some companies are positioning their innovations as mobile NFC solutions to take advantage of the business interest.

In a recent Forbes article titled "Leave The Credit Card, Take The Cell Phone," we're introduced to mobile payment provider, Bling Nation. Armed with any mobile phone, we can start spending without our credit cards. Instead, we just take our Bling-tagged phones and tap our way to shopping nirvana.

Not so fast. What this article fails to mention is that Bling Nation doesn't actually integrate any NFC functionality into the mobile phone. It issues RFID stickers which you can adhere to your phone, or not. You could just as easily stick it to your keychain, or even your good old fashioned plastic credit card. SMS messages are sent to your number with each transaction, but are not necessary to the service.

The Bling Nation platform doesn't let you leave your credit card at home, rather it let's you stick it to your phone. The technology is no different from any of the current keyfob or card based solutions already available -- except for the smart marketing positioning.

But while this is not a mobile NFC innovation, it does bring a major innovation to the table. Bling Nation takes the bank ATM network out of the equation, and instead offers a wireless clearing house function. Their service is significantly cheaper for retailers to use because they can offer lower transaction charges and monthly fees. So the real innovation is on their mobile payment infrastructure.

That said, having a system like this in place, they could be well positioned once NFC mobile phones gain traction. Their affiliated banks could register your phone to enable true mobile NFC functionality. Access to loyalty programs available from Bling Nation registered merchants would be unchanged. 

It's our job to craft marketing programs around platforms like this that take advantage capabilities like geo location and mobile internet access to connect with consumers at the point of sales to support and influence their purchase decisions.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

iPhone RFID proof of concept

The Touch Project has a great prototype application of the iPhone using NFC to trigger video playback when RFID-enabled objects are scanned. It recognizes the power of mobile media applications to augment a real world experience, and very intentionally leverages NFC to interweave the two.

Check it out:

For consumers to adopt NFC-based applications they are going to need to get more than they give. In and of itself, this application won't persuade many users to start using NFC, but this prototype demonstrates how NFC could operate as a trigger for a compelling experience.

Provided that there are RFID-enabled objects to scan, this app could provide reciprocal relationship where users find the cost and effort of buying the app worth the utility they gain, and sponsors paying to create the content get the engagement with end users they crave.
What other killer apps are out there brewing?

Image from article by Timo.