Penrillian founder Charles Weir: NFC for payments is not dead yet #AppsWorld

According to Charles Weir, founder and technical director of development house Penrillian, near field communications (NFC) payment technology is going to seriously gain ground in two years’ time – and Apple’s lack of development in the area is just a red herring.

The launch of iOS 7, and Bluetooth technology iBeacons in particular, has caused many in the press to call it the NFC-killer. Jonny Evans, writing for ComputerWorld last week, noted that “it has to be said: Apple and its partners appear to have decided that NFC is dead.”

But Weir, who is speaking on mobile payments at Apps World Europe next week, told TelecomsTech that “there is just no chance” Apple won’t at some point jump on board the technology – so long as everyone else is doing it, anyway.

“I wasn’t expecting them to do anything for a while [on NFC],” Weir says.

“Apple tackles technologies in two ways. On things which they control themselves, they are happy going for the real bleeding edge approach. When it comes to things which depend on other people, Apple never go near it until other people have done the trailblazing.

“I’m not expecting them to do anything with NFC payments yet because there isn’t the infrastructure, there isn’t the momentum. It’s not worth their while,” he adds.

But Weir argues that it’s not in Apple’s hands as to whether the technology gets accepted in the payments space; it’s the task of Visa and MasterCard.

“Visa and MasterCard have decided that [NFC] is the way they’re going to go,” Weir says. “They’ve decided that in two years, all credit cards will have this, whether you like it or not, and therefore, if you’re a little shop in the middle of nowhere and you don’t have NFC, then you’re going to be losing out soon.

“It’s going to come, and once it has come, once it has gotten to the point where the majority of outlets – more than 60% - have NFC terminals, then I personally will be very surprised if Apple does not support it,” he concludes.

One technology Cupertino certainly has gone in for, however, is biometrics, as evinced in the iPhone 5S.

Security is certainly top of mind for users looking for a suitable mobile payments solution, yet Weir is not entirely convinced about biometrics, saying it’s just “an alternative to typing four digits”.

“Biometrics is interesting – you can’t identify a person, but you can identify the difference between up to two people and up to 1000. You can have biometrics on your phone and if I swipe my finger I probably won’t be able to get in,” Weir notes, adding: “It doesn’t identify you or me, but it’s just good security and that’s why you can get away with it.”

Weir is speaking at Apps World Europe, and he says he’s looking forward to meeting like minded professionals.

“I like that there’s a whole session on mobile payments of different sorts, I’m looking forward to that,” Weir says. “And I’m looking forward to meeting the people are going to be there and speaking there – I think it’ll be good fun.”

Charles Weir is speaking at Apps World Europe, on October 22-23 at Earls Court 2, London. Find out how you can attend here.

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