NFC payments are five to ten years away from mainstream adoption and on the crossover between the 'Peak of Inflated Expectations' and the 'Trough of Disillusionment', according to this year's Gartner Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies. NFC as a whole is expected to hit the mainstream more quickly, but is still two to five years away from maturity.
Market analyst Gartner has published the 2012 edition of its annual Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies, which sees it analysing the market adoption status of a wide range of technologies and placing each on a graph indicating its stage of development and likely time to reach maturity.
Last year, the analysts caused surprise by placing NFC payments at the 'Peak of Inflated Expectations'. For 2012, NFC payments and NFC in general are separately handled in the graph — but NFC payments are still seen as being five to ten years away and are placed on the border between the Peak of Inflated Expectations and the 'Trough of Disillusionment'. NFC in general, meanwhile, is placed firmly in the Trough of Disillusionment with a time to plateau of two to five years.
Overall, says Gartner's Hung LeHong, the theme of this year's Hype Cycle is the concept of 'tipping points'. "We are at an interesting moment, a time when many of the scenarios we've been talking about for a long time are almost becoming reality," he explains.
"The smarter smartphone is a case in point. It's now possible to look at a smartphone and unlock it via facial recognition, and then talk to it to ask it to find the nearest bank ATM. However, at the same time, we see that the technology is not quite there yet. We might have to remove our glasses for the facial recognition to work, our smartphones don't always understand us when we speak, and the location-sensing technology sometimes has trouble finding us."
NFC is one of those tipping point technologies, according to Gartner, for its ability to help people interact more naturally with technology. "The technologies on the Hype Cycle that make this possible include human augmentation, volumetric and holographic displays, automatic content recognition, natural-language question answering, speech-to-speech translation, big data, gamification, augmented reality, cloud computing, NFC, gesture control, virtual worlds, biometric authentication methods and speech recognition," the analysts say.
"Many of these technologies have been 'emerging' for multiple years and are starting to become commonplace, however, a few stand out as tipping point technologies including natural-language question answering and NFC."
NFC is also a tipping point technology for payments, says Gartner, which envisions a cashless world in which every transaction is an electronic one. "This will provide enterprises with efficiency and traceability, and consumers with convenience and security. The technologies on the 2012 Hype Cycle that will enable parts of this scenario include NFC payment, mobile over-the-air (OTA) payment and biometric authentication methods. Related technologies will also impact the payment landscape, albeit more indirectly. These include the Internet of Things, mobile application stores and automatic content recognition. The tipping point will be surpassed when NFC payment and mobile OTA payment technologies mature."
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