NFC Will Sweep Away QR Codes

NFC-QR-code-rfid-blogNFC (Near Field Communication) is going to change how retailers market to consumers as QR codes never were — just as soon as those consumers learn how it works. Although most Americans may consider NFC the same thing as mobile payments, that’s actually a misconception. Conducting a mobile payment is just one of its functions.

The technology can be used in one of three ways:

1. Peer-to-peer communication, as seen in the Samsung commercials, as people touch their phones together to exchange a song or other data.

2. Secure card emulation, for instance, a hotel keycard with an embedded NFC chip that you tap on the door as opposed to sliding it in and out.

3. Read/write, a catch-all for exchanging data back and forth.

As more handset manufacturers release NFC-enabled phones, consumers are becoming more comfortable with the technology and will eventually be well versed in how it works. As this happens, retailers will be able to embed NFC chips into digital signage displays and other marketing materials to interact with their customers, said Mikhail Damiani, CEO of mobile marketing solutions provider Blue Bite.

“There is a huge opportunity to use NFC to engage customers,” said Daminani, who used the example of an NFC-enabled poster. The customer merely has to tap his phone on it to get the value, which is usually something like a coupon or a piece of information — a much easier way for them to engage than to go through the multistep process of scanning a QR code.

Some people may not use hard-to-use technologies such as QR codes, for they have to take the time to download the app, wait for it to load and then scan it. They might, however, tap their phones on a sign.

Although the deployment of QR codes has skyrocketed in 2011, consumers are not using them and usage is stuck at about 6.5 percent.

“Anything that makes you take out your phone, launch the app, wait for it, scan it — most people won’t use it.”