NFC tech gets mixed treatment in the media, with some rushing to embrace it and the wave-and-pay options affiliated with it, while others are dubious about its promise. Korean businesses, for their part, seem certain: A new coalition is banding together to try to attract a billion dollars of business and 5,000 NFC-related jobs.
The new Grand NFC Korean Alliance, composed of both government bodies and technology companies, is looking to advance NFC tech in a number of ways—from building test-bed devices so third-party firms can build their own systems, to putting together a proper service infrastructure. That's why there are cellphone firms in the mix, along with LG, Samsung and a number of other makers, credit card companies, and existing telecoms billing providers. Pretty much everyone who would need to be involved to make an NFC solution work, right down to the Korea Internet Companies association, is involved.
The Alliance has its eye on first-mover advantage, aggressively pushing NFC-enabled tech in Korea so the firms involved can build up expertise and thus offer their services on an international market with a degree of history that would be hard to rival. More merchants will get NFC-equipped card-processing terminals, and ticketing for transport and access will have an accelerated development to adopt NFC tickets. Tourist information will get an NFC boost, advertising will get custom NFC tags in a location-based-services experiment, and coupons and NFC-based smart wallet tech will be developed.
If that sounds familiar, it's because some of it is reminiscent of what Google, Visa, and MasterCard have been proposing in a number of (slightly overlapping) schemes to get digital-payments tech and integrated smartphone apps using NFC in the U.S. The difference is that instead of competing against each other, the coalition in Korea is pulling in the same direction—and with huge manufacturers like LG and Samsung aboard, it can cover the hardware, software, and fiscal infrastructure needs all at once. The plan is to generate around $1 billion (equivalent) in production revenue, $320 million in "added values," and around 5,700 jobs over the next five years. Pretty serious plans, in other words.
[Image: Flickr user oskay]