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GSMA reports on NFC adoption at MWC, SIM trends and HCE

One in nine attendees at Mobile World Congress (11.8%) made use of the NFC Badge function available at this year’s event, the GSMA has told NFC World, and there was a “significant increase” in the number of people participating in the NFC Experience as a whole this year.

GSMA president Pierre Combelle

COMBELLES: Still a lot of questions when it comes to HCE

In all, 10,000 of the event’s 85,000 visitors used the NFC Badge service and a total of 51,000 NFC interactions were made across the Fira Gran Via venue. Last year, 10,500 people used the NFC Experience.

Incipio distributed 12,000 NFC cases for iPhones free of charge in the “first couple of days” of the event. “That was a real positive,” GSMA media director Claire Cranton told NFC World. “We heard a lot of very positive comments about the opportunity given to participate and it wasn’t just tapping and downloading information, there was more interaction and networking.”

“We saw more people using NFC more broadly than last year,” Cranton continued. “We are happy with the figures and happy with the feedback we got from people who were using it everyday during the event.”

The GSMA now predicts that shipments of NFC SIM cards will increase by two-thirds in 2014 compared to 2013 — and, despite the arrival of host card emulation (HCE), it believes that secure element on NFC SIMs will continue to be the preferred choice for payments service providers for “now and the short term.”

“It could be more than two-thirds; we’re keeping this figure as our forecast for the time being, but it could even be more,” Pierre Combelles, the GSMA’s head of NFC, told NFC World. “I don’t know exactly what the ratio is between 2013 and 2012, but it was already a very strong increase between those two years so we’re not saying it’s going to be a fantastic disruption — it’s normal industry growth.

“We think there’s a lot of room in Asia and China in particular for this. Europe has slowed down by fragmentation; there are so many operators in different markets that it makes deployments of NFC SIM cards a bit more complex in terms of the ecosystem, but it is progressing and increasing steadily.”

“Of course, you could argue that there are other technologies coming that could be competitors that could push the other way in terms of volume, but to us, these numbers are still relevant,” Combelles continued. “When it comes to HCE, I think it’s a matter of when they [service providers] want to deploy something. Whether it’s now or in the short term, the answer is clearly through a secure element.

“The message we are trying to get over is that there is clearly a difference here of maturity between the two approaches. Whether you do it through a secure element or via a cloud-based approach, all of the security and risk management needs to be taken very cautiously. It’s important and very interesting to look at the first trials of HCE, and we will start seeing what issues remain to be solved.”

“We really want the industry to be well informed and well aware of the level of maturity to both approaches and what they have to do to go to scale with one or the other. For us, it’s clear that there are still a lot of opening questions when it comes to HCE,” Combelles added.

  • Rupert Englander

    12,000 iPhone cases distributed for free.
    A mobile industry convention where awareness for NFC should be significantly higher than public awareness.
    High adoption of smartphone technologies by the audience meaning also a high penetration of Android devices.

    And yet only 11.8% of visitors bothered to interact.

    Sorry – but spin as the GSMA might I don’t think these numbers are hugely compelling and will excite anyone particularly.
    I would title this news item as “NFC continues to struggle to gain interest.”

    • Claire Cranton

      Hi Rupert,
      the iPhone cases could not be used as part of the NFC badge access – only for reading tags, so the two figures are separate. Also many more people used NFC once in the venue for information/fun/networking but as we can not tell how many individual users there are only interactions, and then not all of them, it is not a figure we quote. No spin – we are genuinely very pleased with the feedback that we have had so far.
      Claire

      • Rupert Englander

        Claire,
        Thanks for clarifying the iPhone case point. Fair enough. It would still have been nice to be able to determine unique users as opposed to overall number of interactions, but appreciate the complexity in achieving that.
        Given the benefits of the NFC badge function I am surprised more didn’t make use of it.
        Anyway – thanks for setting the record straight. As you say it does read for a better read with that in mind.
        Rupert

  • morph

    “NFC SIMs will continue to be the preferred choice for payments service providers for “now and the short term.””
    “SIMs” there’s your problem. SIM = Telco.
    Q: Since when did Payment Issuers or Acquires want to share revenue with Telco’s
    A: Never!!!

  • https://www.sjb.co.uk/ Mike Clark

    To be fair, MWC is about a lot more than the interesting consumery bits of the industry. A whole lot of people were there to talk about LTE backhaul and other fascinating mobile network stuff, and presumably couldn’t give a fig about NFC. I’m guessing that another large contingent in the mobile industry is so used to NFC that they gave didn’t feel it was a priority for them and they gave it a pass. Then there’s the folks who didn’t have the right phone or SIM, and the ones who hadn’t heard about the programme before they arrived, etc etc. Even amongst an audience of ‘phone people’, to expect anything approaching 100% uptake is unrealistic.

    In short, there are many reasons why visitors may not have used the NFC passes, and a 12% uptake from 85,000 sounds good to me.

    In contrast, we had 110,000 unique visitors to this site in February, and they were ALL interested in NFC. Don’t start writing obituaries yet…

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