NFC sticker patent awarded to Blaze Mobile turns your non NFC phone into an NFC phone
Posted by Seth PlanckJuly 16th, 2011 at 2:34 PM Filed Under Latest News, Videos
NFC sticker patent awarded to Blaze Mobile, turns your non-NFC phone into an NFC phone
Blaze Mobile has been awarded a patent for an NFC sticker that attaches to iPhones and feature phones and allows them to make NFC contactless payments. Blaze Mobile was one of the first companies to enter the mobile wallet business back when there were no mobile wallets. The grandaddy of mobile wallets announced on Friday that it had been awarded patent for an NFC sticker that communicates with applications within the phone and allows them to conduct contactless payments. The system is currently certified for MasterCard PayPass accounts, but on the company’s website the NFC stickers are listed as coming soon. If you are a regular reader of NFC Rumors, you will know that tap-to-pay transactions are set to explode over the next few years, and this NFC sticker may have just tipped the balance of power when it comes to enabling non-NFC phones to make NFC contactless transactions. At this time, there are very few NFC-enabled phones in the marketplace and the NFC sticker may well sell like hot cakes. Blaze is working on a text-message-based mobile wallet that would work with basic phones. Blaze Mobile said it expects to introduce the feature by the fourth quarter.
How will this NFC sticker patent affect other NFC stickers that do the same?
When Google announced its Google Wallet product, it said that NFC stickers were theoretically possible to allow a phone that didn’t have NFC to become an NFC-enabled device. Since then, there have been NFC sticker projects around the world that are allowing people to make contactless payments, including GoTag here in the US, Gemalto in Slovakia and a handful of other Blaze Mobile projects . What is unknown is how the Blaze Mobile NFC sticker patent may affect other NFC stickers that enable Blaze Mobile non -NFC phones to go all the way with contactless payments. Adding licensing fees to a NFC sticker product could kill the industry before it begins and it is not clear how all encompassing the Blaze Mobile NFC sticker patent is.
The company’s CEO, Michelle Fisher, said the patent validates the company’s NFC sticker technology, which she said has been replicated by others without proper credit. That statement alone may give an indication of patent suits to come.
An NFC sticker that enable non-NFC phones has a limited lifespan
It’s projected that by 2015 most of us will be rocking NFC phones with NFC chips built straight into our mobile phones. The life span of this technology in the western world is limited to 2-3 years at maximum, and if Apple comes out with an NFC iPhone in September, it may be shorter than that. However, in developing countries, this form of payment may have more longevity. In many parts of the world that are not as economically fortunate, cell phones are more pervasive than homes with running water and NFC stickers could well have a much longer life span. That said, Blaze Mobile CEO knows the time frame that NFC stickers used for NFC contactless payments is short.
“Blaze is not in competition with Google’s Nexus NFC phone, or any other NFC phone,” Fisher said in a statement. “We offer consumers an alternative so they do not have to buy a new phone, or wait until more NFC phones are released.”
It is good to see a company that has pioneered the NFC mobile wallet being able to stay relevant today, as many pioneer and early adopting companies usually cannot compete with larger and newer rivals. It is also great to hear that more NFC stickers are on their way to the market. What would not be so great though is if patent wars begin and this technology’s proliferation sets back the adoption of NFC based payments using an NFC sticker.