NFC begins to get the attention of the mass market — but will it be a help or a hindrance?

OPINION: After years of low profile technical development, it’s now becoming clear that the commercial arrival of NFC is going to be very high profile indeed. And that high profile is set to bring further complications to those looking to commercialise NFC services.

Our article last month about Apple hiring an NFC specialist, for instance, was picked up by mainstream media from the New York Times, Fast Company and the Guardian through to tech and mobile publications such as Wired, Techcrunch, Engadget and Apple Insider — and more than a hundred other publications around the world. It’s clear there is a growing mass market interest in NFC technology.

But it’s not just the mass media that’s interested in NFC. In the US in particular, consumer rights advocates, government regulators, retail trade associations and anti-RFID groups are also starting to keep a close eye on the technology.

That means mobile network operators, for one, are not going to be able to quietly introduce new mobile payments services. Instead, every step they take is going to be made under the intense spotlight of media and regulatory attention — and that could make things move ahead more slowly rather than quickly.

Sarah Clark, Editor