All that’s missing for NFC are the phones

Ahead of an impending near-field communications (NFC) phone onslaught, companies are adding weight to the movement with NFC-enabled applications. This week alone, contactless payment-enabler Inside Contactless and mobile technology company Mobile Distillery teamed up to create a NFC mobile application development platform, and Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) venture touchatag announced a collaboration with payment provider Clear2Pay to create a mobile payment framework for mobile operators.

With their new platform, Celsius for Wave-Me, Inside Contactless and Mobile Distillery are looking to make it easier for software makers to write apps for a range of NFC-enabled mobile phones. Mobile operators can use the companies’ combined services to bring NFC short-range payment capabilities to their consumers.

Similarly, touchatag and Clear2Pay’s partnership creates a framework for operators to offer mobile payments and money transfers. A payment and stored value account allows merchants to enjoy point-of-sale transactions, collection and redemption of loyalty points, issuance of gift cards, delivery of electronic store receipts, interactive advertising and promotions and analytics on the service.

Both of these services are targeted a mobile network operators, but it may take awhile to get them excited. It’s not that operators aren’t interested in NFC, a market that analysts are bullish about; they just haven’t had a lot of handset options to offer their consumers. RFID bar-code tags that can be affixed to a mobile phone or essentially anywhere have stepped up as an interim solution, but the experience won’t likely get mass appeal. According to Juniper Research, operators can rest assured NFC phones are coming, beginning with Nokia’s 6126 Classic NFC phone, first in the Far East and eventually to North America. When they do, it appears the NFC ecosystem will be ready for them.

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