Something to look forward to: The term contactless payment is set to become more accurate over the next few years thanks to improvements in the capabilities of near-field communication (NFC) that should make tap-to-pay a misnomer. Not only will devices will have much greater NFC range, but they will also feature more powerful charging capabilities.
The NFC Forum, a collaborative body comprising members such as Apple, Sony, Google, NXP, and Qualcomm, is devoted to enhancing and standardizing NFC technology. As reported by Android Authority, the Forum has unveiled a new strategic roadmap, outlining five primary areas of innovation for NFC projected for the next two to five years.
One of the biggest improvements looks set to be an increase in the range of NFC connections, which today are limited to 5mm. The Forum is examining ranges that are four to six times that distance. This would allow contactless payments to become truly contactless – no more physical tapping – making them faster and easier. Users wouldn't have to be so accurate when lining up a device for a contactless transaction, too.
The other major change involves an increase in power for NFC wireless charging. Current specifications offer up to 1 watt of power. The plans would increase this to 3 watts, which is still less than the Qi standard's maximum 15W. The Forum says this will bringing wireless power and charging to new and smaller form factors.
Another change is multiple purpose tap, a feature that will allow several actions with a single tap. Given examples include point-to-point receipt delivery, loyalty identification, and total-journey ticketing.
The group also aims to give smartphones point-of-sale functionality so businesses and individuals can receive payments anywhere. It also wants to enable NFC to share data on its composition and the way a product can be recycled.
These changes won't be here anytime soon, though. The two-to-five-year timeframe includes all five improvements, so some could arrive a lot sooner than others. Increased range and wireless-charging power will be the ones the public should appreciate most, so let's hope they get development priority.
NFC Forum members will be presenting a 60-minute live technology roadmap session next week, (June 27).