Will shoppers be enticed by new ways of paying?
But regardless of the hype around NFC, the experience of one futuristic supermarket in Germany hints that consumers may need a lot more convincing before they change the way they shop.
“Our store was created as a ‘living lab’”, says Dr Gerd Wolfram, managing director of Metro Systems, part of the global supermarket chain that runs the Future Store.
His first big failure – a fingerprint payment system that no privacy-conscious Germans wanted to use – is particularly revealing in light of the current push towards mobile payments.
The fingerprint scanning machine is now collecting dust in the checkout section.
Does the same fate await the NFC machine, which will start accepting mobile phone payments as early as next month?
Speaking to shoppers at the Future Store, it is clear that many just see it as their local supermarket, rather than as a laboratory, and they want to be in and out as quickly as possible.
Clearly, if NFC is going to appeal to people such as Ms Reckin, then it will not only have to match credit cards and cash in terms of security and privacy, but also in terms of speed.
The Future Store already uses an iPhone app that is meant to speed up payment, but the app also reveals the pitfalls of bringing mobile phones into the shopping process.
Unlike other shopping list apps, Future Store’s app lets you scan barcodes of items as you pick them off the shelves. When you finish shopping, the app generates a final bar code displayed on your phone, which you then scan at a self-service checkout.
The upside is that you spend less time in the noisiest and most stressful part of the supermarket – the tills.
But the problem lies with using your phone to scan bar codes, which demands both hands, and takes around 10 to 15 seconds even with an easy-to-hold item such as a bottle of wine.
Engineers working on the new NFC smartphone payment system should take note: 10 seconds of faffing around with a phone can seem like ages in a busy supermarket.