Two new Forrester Research reports illustrate how new products and services will emerge from Near Field Communications (NFC) and digital wallet technologies. In short, it’s not just about payments. This is a crowded space with many companies jockeying for position including: Google Wallet, Starbucks’ mobile payment app, PayPass from MasterCard, and the Isis venture from AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless.

First, some perspective: Forrester projects that the number of NFC-enabled mobile devices shipped worldwide will more than double this year to nearly 100 million, but mainstream use of the technology remains three to five years away in most countries. Innovators in the payments space are not waiting for NFC; their proposed solutions are hardware-agnostic and present fewer hurdles for both merchants and consumers. 

With nothing significantly broken with current payment options, Forrester believes that moving the needle on the adoption of NFC and digital wallets rests on providing consumers a more compelling experience beyond just payments. 

“The key long-term driver for NFC technology is that it can enable many new product and service experiences beyond just mobile contactless payments. The list of new use cases is long: convenient transport experiences, next-generation shopping experiences, authentication and identity management solutions, or immersive marketing experiences. NFC will also expand into other consumer and workforce connected devices, facilitating content and app sharing and cross-device experiences,” writes Forrester Principal Analyst Thomas Husson in the new report “NFC: What Lies Beyond Contactless Payments.” Read more of his analysis in this new blog post.

“The real promise of digital wallets lies within their ability to facilitate payment while simultaneously enabling smarter, more efficient commerce through delivery of value-added services — before, during, and after the payment moment,” writes Forrester Senior Analyst Denée Carrington in the new report “Why The Digital Wallet Wars Matter.” Read more of her analysis in this new blog post.