The Pros and Cons of Near Field Communication

As with any new technology, people have to weigh the potential benefits with the potential risks before determining whether or not this technology will find its way into their lives. There are still people today in industrial nations to whom the personal computer has been a viable purchase for over two decades who have refrained from buying one because of a concern for their privacy. This concern is not unfounded and indeed people have had their identities stolen and their financial lives ruined because they were not careful with their information on their computer. For those who have refrained from purchasing a computer, the risk of this sort of ruin is simply not worth the potential benefits of having a computer in the house. 

The same type of choice is on the horizon for people concerning NFC systems in their phones (assuming the decision has been made to buy a cell phone). Of course, if you have read any of my other posts you know that I find the rewards to far outweigh the risks in this instance, and I believe that after you take the pros and cons one by one you will agree with me.

First, the major risks. Retailers are having to make the decision to change how they do things to make way for NFC devices as a form of payment. The trouble is, if they do this, they stand to lose a significant amount of money from people who pay without funds in the bank. This is because, unlike debit cards, which take out the money immediately from someone’s bank account and often do not let a person use the card if they are going to spend more than they have, this type of system would update overnight. So while the company may eventually recoup the money it lost on the initial point of sale transaction, there is a period of time during which they will not have that money.

Another major risk stems from an emerging field of computer hacking, phone hacking. As phones become nothing less than very small computers, and as they continue to carry more and more information about the phone’s owner (credit card information, bill payments, even social security information) the incentive for people to hack these phones becomes greater. Furthermore, as technology advances, it becomes easier for hackers to do this remotely, meaning the phone never has to leave its owners hands. 

Now for the benefits. The first one I can think of, and you won’t find this on any other blog I can find, you already have all this information on your phone, so why not make the most of it? You have pictures, phone numbers, and many people pay at least one bill with their phones, so for these people the concern over security is one they have already come to terms with. 

Also, it’s convenient, and if you think people won’t pay for convenience even when the technology advances an already convenient, think of the iPad. Was anyone really complaining about having to use the mouse pad with their finger on their laptop, or having to flip open that oh-so-heavy screen? No. But make something a little more convenient, even though it can’t do all the things the devices it is supposed to replace can do, and people will pay out the nose for it. 

At the end of the day it might not be the most compelling argument anyone has made for a piece of technology, but you can bet it’s the most realistic one. People will almost always opt for convenience even in the face of less security. Just watch and see.

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