“In Japan, your phone is your wallet, your identity, your personal assistant, your trainer, your everything. While we in the rest of the world, worry about hardware and software features, in Japan it’s all about the services…. Your phone doesn’t have 3G? No thanks… Your phone doesn’t have NFC? No thanks….” 
Hold up! NFC?!
NFC = Near Field Communication
It’s a wireless communication technology that allows the exchange of data between devices over about a short distance. The way it works is that you have a chip embedded into an item and then use an NFC enabled device/card to connect to transfer information. T3 Magazine identified that the technology works similar like Bluetooth, but the recognition of the device is much quicker over a shorter distance.
Sounds cool right? So how is it being used?
Well, it’s widely used in Japan in everyday life in the for of Osaifu-Keitai (Wallet Mobile.) Clinton Jeff from ZOMGITSCJ reported that Japan’s leading mobile technology company NTT Docomo are leading the way in NFC-payment with their latest devices having the technology enabled.
“Docomo started this quite a while ago, and I noticed almost every single person using their phones as payment, when we went out later. Almost every big and small brand shop accept payments by mobile nfc, and our first trip to try that out, was going to be to a Japanese McDonalds,” revealed Clinton .
The possibilities for residents in Japan are endless. They are able to use NFC-enabled devices to purchase items from McDonalds as well as vending machines, photo booth, shops and even use it in the subway! It’s incredible how the Japanese residents have embraced the technology into their daily lives for the better.
You are probably wonder how secure this is and what would it mean if your phone was stolen?! Well in Japan, “If you lose your phone or it’s stolen, there’s no worries because you can lock AND erase your device just by calling a certain number, from any other phone. To add to that, all your data is automatically backed up on the cloud, so you’ll never have to worry about losing anything,” observed Clinton on his trip. 
The security issue is one of the main reasons why majority of people will not want to embrace the technology, however, it seems like the Japanese have this concerned handled.
So when is this coming to the UK?!
So far there have been advances towards NFC technology as you have the Oyster card widely used for London transport. Trent Buses have their “Mango” card, to allow passengers to use the card instead of buy a ticket. There are successful advances with the technology, however there is yet to be any advances following the Japan model by removing cards and turning your mobile into a contactless payment device.
What does the future hold?
A quick search on Google News for “NFC” quickly brings up lots of news articles on NFC. It seems like the technology is gathering a lot of attention in the tech-world. Rumours are circulating that manufacturer Samsung and Visa are planning a joint venture to provide contactless mobile payment for the London Olympics 2012. 
Even Google have begun to explore the possibilities of NFC technology after they removed QR Codes from their “places” service. It’s worth noting that Google’s Nexus S has already have NFC technology incorporated into it! . Earlier in the week, Bloomberg reported that Amazon are looking into ways buyers are allowed to purchase items via their mobile. Whilst RIM are trying to work out whether its best to store information on a device or on the SIM card (like the service providers would prefer).
Industrial insiders are already talking about a NFC-payment system being a reality outside of Japan. Big companies like AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon have joined with a number of big banks for a joint venture (called Isis) on making your mobile phone a payment device. It will get a trail run in Salt Lake City in early 2012. It will be really interesting to see how this pans out and if the locals are comfortable with having their mobile as a payment device.