Written by Martin Foo, Vice President of Mobile Financial Services Solutions at Gemalto Asia
From shopping to banking, Australians are increasingly turning toward their smart devices for added convenience and flexibility. Today, three in fiveAustralians (61 percent) use a smartphone, up from 48 percent just one year ago. Studies showthe majority of Australians use smartphones to check email and maps, browse and conduct searches but new technologies allowing for the growth of mobile transactions are deepening the connection between consumers and their devices and creating a more convenient “tap and go” lifestyle.
Transactions powered by Near Field Communication (NFC) technology allow customers to make purchases without pulling out their bank cards or cash. With NFC technology, secure purchases can be made quickly and easily. Consumers can replace their wallet with a mobile one and easily keep track of numerous receipts, vouchers, gift cards and boarding passes. These mobile transactions not only make shopping more convenient but also enhance the overall shopping experience. With NFC-enabled smartphones, retail customers can check-in, tag smart posters and codes for in-store product information, connect to social pages, redeem coupons, collect loyalty points and pay at the checkout without ever reaching inside their handbag or wallet.
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Australians have become increasingly comfortable with this “tap and go” culture, having benefitted from other contactless services since the 2000s. Supermarket group Coles, which serves 18 million customers a week, reported that more than half of all its credit card transactions are now made using contactless payments – just six months after rolling out the technology. All of the country’s major banks issue contactless cards and Commonwealth Bank, ANZ and NAB have moved into the NFC space, promoting mobile payment apps and mobile wallet services. A 2011 study by PayPalfound that nearly 68 per cent of Australians planned to use mobile devices for transactions and payments in the near future. Additionally, a global survey by IMS Research of 700 consumers last year found 60 per cent were either "very interested" or "interested" in a mobile phone that could replace their bank card.
The potential for NFC stretches beyond retail stores, with “tap and go” technology already making an impact on Australian transport systems. In Brisbane, the contactless Go cardaccounts for more than 80 percent of the 700,000 trips made each day and the Opal card has paved the way for convenient, queue-free travel on buses, trains and ferries across New South Wales. An estimated 100,000 trips have been recorded using the Opal card, with new transport links scheduled to be incorporated. These examples demonstrate the opportunities for Australian cities to leverage improved mobile technologies and the willingness of Australians to embrace them. With NFC-enabled smartphones, commuters would be able to digitally store transit passes to quickly board buses and trains and check or reload funds. The physical cards commuters carry today will soon give way to smartphones that can do it all with added convenience and security.
Mobile transactions powered by NFC are also changing the way Australian consumers interact with their favourite brands, making it easier to connect and engage in a personalised way. Lipton Ice Tea set up smart posters for Sydney University students to ‘Like’ the Lipton Facebook page by tapping NFC-enabled smartphones and customers at this year’s Sydney Royal Easter Show used NFC to tap and learn about products from more than 50 exhibitors. NFC technology can also create more personalised experiences between users, tapping smartphones together to share contacts, business cards, photos and videos, enable multiplayer games and even transfer money.
With more than 100,000 contactless point-of-sale terminals in Australia, we’ve only scratched the surface of this technology. The accessibility of mobile transactions allows almost anyone to be a potential user. As connecting to the Internet becomes cheaper and easier and the number of smartphones continues to grow, there’s an expectation that managing the tasks of day-to-day life will also become more convenient. Consumers will be able to put away their cash and bank cards and securely store and access everything they need on their smartphone. Many of the ways in which mobile transactions will impact consumers’ lives have yet to be determined but it’s safe to say that “tap and go” is here to stay.