Having spent years roaming the wireless wilderness, NFC technology has started to gain the active attention of handset makers and operators as a source of revenue generation.
Large, transport-based trials in major European cities have been largely successful, and several initiatives are underway in France to deploy eTicketing services in 2011.
To help facilitate this, Google, RIM and Nokia have indicated their commitment to integrate NFC in a meaningful selection of their products, which will help trigger uptake this year.
However, the long-held issue for eTicketing has been the investment required by the transportation firms to install readers and supporting infrastructure. As standards have emerged and equipment costs have fallen, this barrier now looks lower than ever, and a viable route forward is more obvious.
One key vendor of NFC chipsets, NXP Semiconductors, is forecasting more than 50 million new deployments of NFC chips in smartphones worldwide this year.
Likely outcome: NFC deployments in France will be watched closely as mobile operators, financial services firms and transportation companies forge ahead with their commercial launches.
Other operators in Europe could start to conduct more sophisticated trials--having already held limited trials in the past--to better understand how the technology has matured.
But as always, the business model for all parties involved will need to be advantageous to each for any real progress to be made.
The ultimate goal should be a move towards a pan-European eTicketing initiative that would drive down the technology costs and gain consumer attention.