Jiepang, China’s version of location check-in service Foursquare, has begun near field communication (NFC) trials with its popular location-based application. Users will be able to check into locations using NFC, a wireless technology built into a device that communicates with a reader when it is in close proximity (a few centimeters). Jeipang is the first location-based service of its kind to begin testing NFC in the Chinese market.
To get its feet wet with the emerging technology, Jiepang distributed around 1,000 NFC tags at the Strawberry Music Festival in Beijing last weekend. The tags allowed users to automatically check in at the festival itself and at 5 different clubs and bars hosting festival related events. The tags had a 100% success rate for use, and each user who checked in received a message that roughly translated to: “Cool! – Congrats on being an early adopter! – You are Checking in with Jeipang using NFC at Wei Bo Zhi Yan. We hope you have a great time using Jeipang”
Jiepang does not expect tags as a method of check-in to take off in China or Taiwan just yet. According to CEO David Liu, the company’s NFC launch this past weekend was designed to test the waters and gain experience with this emerging technology. He feels it is going to be at least a year before this technology goes mainstream, but when it arrives Jiepang plans on being ready. “There is a lot of potential to improve both the experience for customers as well as businesses” he said. “We are making an action that used to take 20-30second down to 2 or 3.”
NFC is a powerful technology because it hopes to enable payments directly from your phone. However, getting the average consumer to make the leap of faith to associating their credit card with their phone is a huge stumbling block. Jeipang is an application that would allow consumers to become accustomed to the idea of enabling actions with their phone without the fear of loosing money. Some might view them as the thin edge of the wedge for mobile payments.
Until there are enough NFC-enabled handsets on the market, Jiepang will continue with trials to understand usage patterns of this potentially powerful technology. “We won’t be doing NFC on our own” noted Liu, “its important to focus on maintaining and growing partnerships in order to be prepared to jump on the NFC curve when it arrives.”