7 out of 12 Meetings Technology Trends to Watch for 2012: Near Field Communication (NFC) continues to move into the meetings arena

This is the seventh in a series of 12 weekly blog postings covering the major technology trends affecting conferences, events and trade shows

7.  Near Field Communication (NFC) continues to move into the meetings arena

NFC provides simplified wireless data exchange and transactions using mobile devices in close proximity to each other, usually no more a few centimeters apart. It is expected to become a widely used system for making payments by smartphone in the U.S.

The applications for events are significant allowing for very fast, secure and simplified means of:

  • Electronic ticketing
  • Electronic business card exchange
  • Credit card payment
  • Easy pick up of conference literature, exhibit brochures, course notes, and other digital documents

NFC has been used in Europe for the past few years (I have personally seen people paying for packing meters and tram rides in Estonia simply by tapping their phone to the transaction device).  ITN International (itn-international.com) has successfully used NFC at events for some time including contact exchange, e-ticketing, and micropayments.

There are also companies such as Poken.com using NFC to provide many of these features with a small, inexpensive (US$18), NFC-enabled “pokenTAG” that is worn around the neck and glows green when information is exchanged. 

The game changer, however, will be when NFC becomes commonly available in mobile phones. Blackberry’s three new Curve models are NFC-enabled as are dozens of Android phones and many Nokia phones. The tipping point, however, may be if the soon-to-be-released iPhone5 will offer NFC.  Whether it is this year, or next, NFC will provide much better and faster data exchange, ticketing and micropayment options for events.


Corbin Ball, CMP, CSP is an independent 3rd-party analyst focusing on meetings and tradeshow technology. With 20 years of experience running international citywide technology meetings and shows, he now helps clients worldwide use technology to save time and improve productivity He can be contacted at his extensive web site: www.corbinball.com and followed on Twitter:www.twitter.com/corbinball.

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