Market Insight

NFC Highlights at MWC 2014

March 18, 2014

Don Tait Don Tait Principal Analyst, Cybersecurity & Digital ID

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Over the last couple of years, MWC (Mobile World Congress) has been trying to promote NFC by integrating the technology into badges and linking it to informational content around the show. This year, NFC could be used in a number of different ways including:

  • NFC Demonstrations in the Connected City – by visiting the global showcase of NFC and digital commerce in the marketplace at the connected city.
  • Exhibitor Tags – by looking for exhibitors with the NFC map logo and lightening the luggage by downloading collateral to an NFC-enabled phone.
  • Smart Connect – by exchanging contact details with new connections using the NFC peer-to-peer Smart Connect in the GSMA mobile app.
  • Smart Food – by pre-purchasing food using the GSMA Mobile app and collecting it using an NFC-enabled phone at selected catering outlets.
  • NFC Tap-N-Go Points – by downloading event news, schedules, documents, presentations, videos and other information on the NFC Tap-N-Go points.   
  • NFC Payments – by making mobile NFC payments through Fira Gran Via, which accepted them from Visa payWave at all outlets, except registration.

Attendance at MWC increased from 72,000 in 2013 to 85,000 in 2014. From an NFC perspective, according to the GSMA, around 10,000 attendees used the NFC badge with almost 52,000 NFC transactions made across the four days.

Product and Other Announcements

During MWC, a number of NFC-related announcements were made:

  • Samsung launched Galaxy S5 with NFC, fingerprint verification and PayPal payments.
  • MasterCard acquired C-SAM,  a leading provider of mobile wallet and on-device software and services.
  • Deutsche Telekom, Telefonica Deutschland and Vodafone teamed up with MasterCard to provide banks with a single entry point for deployment of NFC payments.
  • Broadcom introduced low cost, low power NFC controllers for wearable’s and smartphones.
  • NXP updated PN547 controller’s firmware and middleware to provide support for Host Card Emulation (HCE) transactions. It was also reported in the press that NXP had won back the NFC controller business for Samsung’s flagship Galaxy S5 smartphone. Broadcom supplies NFC controllers in the Galaxy S4.
  • KDDI, SK Planet, Chunghwa Telecom and HKT formed the Asia NFC Alliance. Its purpose is to work together to promote adoption of NFC services in Asia and also to use a shared NFC tag specification, platform and brand mark.
  • The Turkish bank Garanti was to issue microSDs to its customers during the second half of 2014. Garanti will be using hardware and back office technology provided by Gemalto and microSD payment infrastructure provided by MasterCard.
  • Sony Mobile launched a wristband, two Xperia smartphones, and an Xperia tablet and a range of accessories, all featuring NFC.


NFC is becoming more prevalent and the de facto standard in many smartphones. In 2014, IHS projects that the NFC attach rate into cellular handsets will reach around 25%. This equates to shipments of 416 million NFC-enabled handsets in 2014. The consensus view was that NFC was still the standard that we should be aiming for, but that technologies like HCE and iBeacon would still have their place. These technologies are more being more seen as complementary, rather than competing technologies to NFC; and can help kick-start adoption. 

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Security Technology
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