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Why so shy on pay-by-wave, Nokia?

New site pushes NFC but the elephant is holding a purse

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Nokia has launched a new website promoting Near Field Communications without any mention of the pay-by-wave systems that have got everyone else so excited.

The site lists all the things one might want to do with an NFC handset, such as sharing pictures, pairing devices and reading passive tags to get local information, but nowhere is there any mention of the proximity-payment systems which are becoming synonymous with the contact-less technology.

Nokia's current NFC phones can't do proximity payments, which may explain the company's reluctance to push that particular application, and NFC does have a host of other useful capabilities – but the lack of obvious revenue stream has pushed them into the background.

It's worth remembering that Bluetooth didn't take off until operators realised the mark-up on a Bluetooth headset was better than a telephone, and as European operators own shops they mandated Bluetooth in handsets, something that never really happened in the USA. Being able to swap business cards with a tap of the phone is fun, but it isn't making money for anyone.

Despite Nokia's reluctance to promote payments though NFC it is still presenting a public discussion on the subject next week, in with the London School of Economics. The subject is how security fears are stifling wireless payments, though we're not convinced they are considering how quickly companies (other than Nokia) are pushing ahead.

Next year's London Olympics, for example, will be awash with wireless payment systems, with Coca-Cola apparently considering NFC vending machines within the site and Visa ensuring that the venue is a showcase for its PayWave tech (and that the competitor's PayPass platform isn't in evidence).

Nokia keeps trying to remind us that NFC isn't just about payments, which is all very well and good, but the Finns are going to have to support those payment systems eventually if it isn't going to be left behind entirely. ®

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