Our future ability to purchase things by waving our phones and ultimately replacing our wallets with them is a hot topic among tech enthusiasts at the moment, but it's going to be a few years before the technology is widespread enough to be used by a majority of consumers.
Eighty-five percent of point-of-sale (POS) terminals will support near-field communications (NFC) for mobile payments by 2016, according to a recent report by ABI Research.
Currently, only about 10% of POS terminals support contactless payments. That number is expected to increase over the next few years as contactless payment cards and NFC-enabled smartphones proliferate. The technology is already available in a handful of newer Android-based phones as well as a couple of other devices from Samsung, Nokia and Motorola. RIM's first NFC-supporting device, the Blackberry 9900 just became available as well. Whether or not the next iPhone will include the technology is still unknown, although rumors suggesting exactly that have been swirling for some time. If it does, that may help more rapidly propel NFC toward mainstream usage.
Also by 2016, ABI expects one billion contactless payment cards to ship, according to a post on NFC World.
In addition to POS terminals, ABI expects us to see NFC implemented at ATMs and vending machines everywhere before long. Of course, the potential future applications of this technology go well beyond payments, a topic we have covered in depth here on ReadWriteWeb. The technology is already being used in things like door locks and games, with just about every analyst and expert on the planet expecting its adoption to continue to grow moving forward.