Companies such as Google currently believe that NFC-enabled smartphones will be the key to cracking the market for mobile payments, replacing credit and loyalty cards and even cash itself. However so far, the company that has had the most success in this market -- Square -- uses a reader that plugs into any smartphone or tablet regardless of NFC compatibility. ABI believes that the growth in use is coming from other applications for the technology, such as online authentication and for transferring files and data between devices such as a video clip from a tablet to a TV via touching.
As a result, ABI believes that thanks in part to early adoption by flagship Android and Windows Phones, 2013 will be the year that the technology starts moving into the mainstream. Research analyst Phil Sealy comments, "2012 is the first time that ABI Research has raised forecasts for NFC-enabled handsets, up from 80 million units to 102 million for year-end 2012. Nine out of the top ten OEMs now have NFC-enabled handsets commercially available, with most housing an embedded secure element solution. We expect handset shipments to more than double next year with NFC inclusion likely to become a default technology integrated into flagship handsets."