How NFC and Other Contactless Payments Differ

When I am describing near field communication to people who know nothing about them, I am usually met with blank stares and silent pleas to stop talking about things they don’t care about. Occasionally, however, I will meet someone who thinks they have me beat. They pull out a plastic card from their wallet and hold it in front of me as if to say “What? Like this near field communication?” as though I have never seen a contactless payment before.

Well, they are usually right. Besides the times people have shown me their methods of contactless payments in their entirely justified attempts to get me to shut up, I haven’t seen them. Do you know why? Because there is nothing more convenient about taking a card out of your wallet or finding your Mobil Speedpass on your keychain and waving it in front of a machine. That seems to be where the disconnect is. People think I have become excited by NFC because you get to wave something to pay rather than swipe it. They would be wrong.

Here’s the thing about those other technologies. They don’t improve anything. It’s kind of like when people wait in line for 3 days before the release of the next Apple product. Was it worth the missed time at work? The stench? Nope. Nothing on that new product can possibly be worth waiting in line for three days for anything… but that’s not the point, is it? The point is status, and the same can be said for pretty much anyone who ever took out their chosen method of contactless payment and actually paid with it. Did you just accomplish anything? No. But it looked cool.

NFC not only lets you pay with it, but it will track your spending to, and will eventually sync with budgeting software to remind you when you go a little overboard during Christmas. It will stop people from starting their cars when they have had too much to drink, thus actually saving lives. There’s nothing previous contactless methods of payment can do that NFC can’t, and plenty NFC can do that these previous technologies can’t. 

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