My first NFC.

The first time I ever used near field communication — that is, before I got my PayPass-enabled MasterCard — was probably in 2008 when I purchased an Octopus Card in Hong Kong to ride the public transit system there.

But the first time I ever used NFC on a phone was only yesterday. This momentous occasion has been recreated for you in the photograph above.

How I came to this revelation was simple enough. I’m planning a trip back to Hong Kong over the holidays, and figured that surely by now there would be an official Octopus client for my NFC-enabled Nexus S. Turns out that there isn’t, but there is at least this handy little app that lets you check the balance on the physical card.

I found but one other NFC card reader in the official Android Market — that one successfully read my Pasmo card from Japan but not the Octopus Card, nor my EasyCard from Taiwan for that matter. Oh, and did I mention that select HTC phones there also have NFC onboard, and get you on the subways same as in Japan?

I’m really at a loss as to why NFC-enabled handsets are so few and far between here in the west. BlackBerry is calling dibs on the first PayPass-certified devices, but only in France. Closer to home, Google Wallet was made available for a limited trial in the U.S. (on Sprint) just last month.

All I want to do is wave my phone over vending machines, turnstiles and such like a boss. Can we please step up our efforts on this?


  1. Let’s just wait till the big A starts using it in one of their iDevices. It will be “magical and revolutionary” and all of a sudden everybody wants to use it.

  2. It kills me too. Good to see BlackBerry pushing this stuff, but carriers can lock out NFC from the phones if they want to, and I think that’s the big problem. Carriers want NFC transactions to authenticate through the SIM card so they can take a cut, but manufacturers just want to pump it through the standard IP network and bypass carriers altogether. That’s my general impression, anyway.

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