I recently got my Google Nexus 4 phone which supports NFC (Near Field Communications – a wireless technology that allows you to hold your phone up to other devices and pass information back and forth.) One of the features I’ve been looking forward to using in the past year is the ability to pay for purchases using an NFC phone. Basically, that means you don’t have to swipe your credit card, you just pass your phone over a credit card terminal and your credit card gets charged. Apparently this has been widely adopted in places like Japan, where you can purchase items from vending machines with your phone.
Now, I don’t expect the US to catch up to technology as quickly as Japan (sadly), but I DO expect stores that primarily sell technology to support a technology like NFC.
I was recently in a Best Buy store, which has the credit card terminals that do support NFC. I was looking forward to doing my first Google Wallet transaction using my phone. The cashier rang up my item and when the
credit card terminal asked for payment, I put my phone on top of it, waited for the beep and was surprised when the terminal responded with some message like “Touchless transactions are not supported”. What?! This isn’t McDonald’s (who, by the way, DOES support NFC payments!), this is Best Buy! One of the largest retail electronics stores in the US! And they aren’t as technologically advanced as…. McDonald’s?!
The Best Buy clerk then said that she has has several other people try to use it, but it never works. So… what does this mean? Does it mean that the technology isn’t ready for prime-time? Or does it mean that Best Buy doesn’t quit know what they’re doing? Or does it mean that the McDonald’s corporation is smarter than Best Buy?
In any case, I’m excited for more businesses to start supporting NFC and Google Wallet.