We mentioned a few weeks back the possibilities of Near Field Communication (NFC) letting us pay for just about everything using our phones. While this still sounds a bit farfetched in most countries there is somewhere in the world where it is already an accepted technology which a lot of people use every day. Can you guess where?
It is no surprise to see that the place where NFC implementation is most advanced is in Japan. One of the areas where it is most used is in public transport. While most of us are quite used to swiping cards to get tickets, a Japanese bus traveller, for example, can swipe their phone on the bus’ reader to pay for the journey.
Flying Made Easy
The smart phone which is at the forefront of the Japanese NFC revolution is the Keitai; a powerful machine which comes in some gaudy colours and has a radio chip component that lets you travel more easily on buses, trains and planes as well as get you checked into a hotel. One of the big advantages for many travellers is the way that the technology lets you use an airline virtual ticket / boarding pass to arrive and get checked in a lot quicker than using more conventional methods. Bus travellers can also take a picture of a barcode poster to get the timetable on their screen.
As well as this, the Keitai is a genuine e-wallet option which people use to pay at vending machines, in taxis and in supermarkets. This is one of the features which looks likely to arrive to other places in the near future, and the ease and confidence with which Japanese consumers use their technology to pay for so many different things gives us genuine belief that NFC can and will work soon in other parts of the world.
Anyone who arrives on holiday in Japan and wants to try out some of the amazing features on these phones can hire one out from the airport or hotel. However, you should check exactly what features you are going to get, as these phones for hire often has just the more tourist friendly options such as the menu translation service, which is accessed by taking a picture of a menu in Japanese.
Is This the Future of Phones?
If the advances which have been seen in Japan recently – most of this technology has been around for about 5 years – are emulated in the rest of the world then the number of cool and useful things we can do with our smart phones is about to multiply dramatically. It increasingly seems as though all we will need to travel with in the future is our phone. We are already getting used to the idea of using one instead of taking physical maps, books, cameras, phrases book or timetables. Now it seems as though we will be able to add money and card to the list of things that can stay at home.