LG outlines NFC payment plans

Mobile payments look set to get significantly easier over the next few years, with several big names putting their weight behind Near Field Communications technology - including, most recently, LG Electronics.

The hardware giant has announced its intentions to equip its mobiles with NFC hardware, which allows them to send and receive data with a simple wireless swipe and is generally considered to be the future of on-the-go payment technology, by 2012.

During an interview with Reuters, LG's vice president Jin-Yong Kim claimed: "The point-of-sale technology, which will be targeted at small and medium-sized businesses and will involve NFC or near field communications and cloud computing, is currently in beta testing, [and] the plan is to launch it in Europe in 2012."

LG's commitment to the technology comes hot on the heels of news that Google, fresh from implementing NFC in its Samsung-manufactured Nexus S smartphone, intends to create its own NFC-powered mobile payment network. Rumours, thus far unsubstantiated, also indicate that Apple will be adding support for the technology to the upcoming iPhone 5 hardware refresh, while the latest version of Samsung's bada OS already includes NFC support.

Attempts to convince people to use their smartphones as a wallet, paying for small-value transactions from their pay-as-you-go balance or adding it on to their monthly bill, have never really taken off. The convenience and immediacy of NFC, however, could change that - and if businesses can combine their efforts to mean that an NFC-equipped smartphone can replace a debit card, an Oystercard, and even a library card, it may well become the next big thing.

For now, however, it remains tantalisingly over the horizon, just on the cusp of becoming the Next Big Thing.