Non-payment uses for near field communication (NFC) capabilities have been attracting the attention of mobile application developers, and one in particular has just announced a suite of tools to help retailers enable NFC-based apps and processes. Narian Technologies has introduced new solutions called Line Controller and Service Supervisor that can help merchants leverage NFC to improve customers’ in-store experience. With costs “starting at five cents per use,” the potential for recurring revenue seems strong. Now, we just need some phones with embedded NFC chips!
“Narian Technologies is unique in that it expands the possibilities of NFC,” said Felix Marx, CEO of C-SAM, an Isis partner, in the announcement. Marx added that Narian is the first company to show how ground-breaking NFC can be.
In a demonstration of the new applications for Mobile Payments Today, Rosenberg said the company has been working on these applications for more than a decade and wanted to create something that was simple for mom-and-pop stores and not just big box retailers.
“(Retailers) can be up and running on the system in an hour,” Rosenberg said. He added the tools require “zero programming” to be set up.
Rosenberg said that even with the wide range of applications Narian is releasing, the system is meant to be a foundation for other developers.
“We believe Apple’s success was the app store,” Rosenberg said. “We’re not going to come up with every scenario.” He said it’s important to let other developers come up with creative applications for the tools, so the suite was designed to be open and scalable with a high level of control for retailers.
Rosenberg acknowledged that at this point creative uses for NFC may be outstripping consumers’ access to NFC-enabled phones.
“We’re only waiting for the phones. Everything else is ready,” Rosenberg said.
But Rosenberg isn’t worried about the number of NFC phones on the market at the moment. There are plenty of handsets equipped with NFC technologies due for release in the coming months, and Narian tools are ready for any NFC-enabled handset regardless of its operating system, he said.
Narian’s tools will initially be released for Android phones, but the suite is designed to support other operating systems expected to use NFC in the future, including the BlackBerry OS, Windows Phone, Symbian and even Apple’s iOS.
Rosenberg added that merchants need not wait for NFC-enabled phones to reach mass adoption.
“Even with just one percent of consumers having NFC phones, our system provides real value for merchants,” Rosenberg told Mobile Payments Today.
In the end, Rosenberg said, NFC technologies are going to be about more than payments, coupons or mobile marketing, and merchants need the tools to exploit the technology.
“There’s a lot more to NFC than just payments,” Rosenberg said. “Companies that don’t expand their conception of NFC will lose.”