Two new Forrester Research reports on the future of NFC may dampen enthusiasm for the technology somewhat. Forrester isn't exactly bearish on NFC, but does predict that the technology is still a few years away from hitting the mainstream. And adoption won't hinge on using NFC for payments, either, the company said.

"The key long-term driver for NFC technology is that it can enable many new product and service experiences beyond just mobile contactless payments," said Forrester Analyst Thomas Husson in a post on the firm's blog. "The list of new use cases is long: convenient transport experiences, next-generation shopping experiences, authentication and identity management solutions, or immersive marketing experiences."

Husson said NFC will also expand to other consumer and workforce connected devices, facilitating content- and app-sharing and cross-device experiences.

Forrester is predicting that the number of NFC-enabled mobile devices shipping worldwide will more than double in 2012 to nearly 100 million, and that more than one-quarter of U.S. consumers will have an NFC phone by 2016. However, Forrester's research also said mainstream use of the technology is still three to five years away for most countries.

"Turning adoption into mass-market usage among consumers will require not only a lot of market education but also, more importantly, the construction of a value proposition for consumers and merchants that goes well beyond convenience and speed to adding value to the entire commerce process," Husson said.

As for the future of mobile wallets, Forrester Senior Analyst Denée Carrington said that as new wallets are introduced into the market, consumers and merchants will accelerate their trial and adoption. However, the mass adoption is going to require a combination of value propositions.

"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," Carrington said on the Forrester blog.

For more stories like this, visit the Trends/Statistics research center.

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