Rumour: Future HP devices to come with NFC tech

Hewlett Packard is reportedly jumping on the Near-Field Communications bandwagon, planning to add the technology to future smartphone and tablet devices.

NFC is a short-range radio communications technology which many believe to be the next frontier in mobile payments. Although the technology isn't new, it has only recently started to receive commercial acceptance: Google has built NFC technology into its Nexus S smartphone in preparation for launching its own mobile payment service, while Orange has launched the first NFC-based payment programme in the UK.

The concept is simple: a user simply waves his or her smartphone over a reader terminal at the till, and is able to instantly make small payments without the need to reach for a credit card or - worse - old-fashioned cash.

While HP hasn't made any public declaration of support for the technology, sources speaking to Bloomberg have claimed that the company is 'considering' introducing devices featuring NFC capabilities before the end of the year.

It's a rumour that makes sense: NFC is looking like the next big thing in payment processing technology, and HP has already indicated its desire to glom on to new and exciting technologies with its support for wireless charging in the new Palm smartphones and TouchPad tablet.

Unlike rival contactless payment technologies such as RFID, NFC is a two-way communication system and opens up the promise of use cases beyond simple payment systems. Already companies - including Google - are investigating the potential for NFC to be used for accurate Foursquare-like 'check ins' in indoor spaces where GPS doesn't work, and others are seeing how the technology can be used to communicate messages between handsets in a local area.

These uses will only flourish if the technology itself is adopted by manufacturers. If HP's support of the technology rings true, it's a major win for the NFC standard.

HP has not responded to our request for comment on this story.