NFC’s ongoing user interface problem: some readers don’t work

I haven’t had a lot of kind words for NFC, the mobile payments mechanism that some have touted as the Next Big Thing in payments. I’ve knocked it for being a kludgy experience that doesn’t deliver any meaningful consumer value over swiping a credit card. But NFC has another big problem: Even when you think it might work, it doesn’t.

Get ready: NFC is nearing its tipping point

The mobile experience is in a renaissance period, from phones to tablets to autos and more. We’re seeing multi-core processors come to mobile devices to enable new applications like intense gaming and HD video playback, and we’re seeing advanced user interfaces, such as gesture and eye tracking, that could greatly improve the mobile experience. Then there’s Near Field Communications (NFC). Many predict NFC will bring one of the most significant improvements to the mobile experience of all.

Google’s Punchd acquisition to push mobile wallet uptake

On first glance, Google’s acquisition of Punchd (a mobile phone-based loyalty service), a company barely a year and a half old, with little revenue and less than $150K in funding for $10M (reported widely) seems crazy. Initial speculation was that Google was making the move to add talent to its Android engineering team. But the fact that it is keeping the Punchd service going (likely moving to Google’s mobile wallet) points to a more strategic objective.