Charities to Benefit from NFC Payments

Posted on 08. Jul, 2011 by in Thoughts

Have you ever wanted to give a donation to charity, but found yourself without any physical money? Near Field Communication (NFC) and mobile contactless payment could help solve this dilemma.


Picture the scene, I was walking out of M&S at Ocean Terminal, and I was asked by a volunteer to donate to charity. Doing the whole ‘patting jean pockets with hands’ and saying “Sorry, I have no change” has been too often my response for the last few years. Fact is, I never carry cash. I could actually go as far as say I hate the stuff. And, I don’t think Im alone.

With charitable donations on the decline, organisations could look to innovation as a helping hand to steer donation numbers back up.

Near Field Communication

If you work in digital, you’ll likely have heard of NFC. The terms been used in 2011 by the likes of Google with their Wallet release and Juniper and its big money predications.

Near field communication, or NFC, allow for simplified transactions, data exchange, and connections with a touch. A smartphone or tablet with an NFC chip could make a credit card payment or serve as keycard or ID card. Wikipedia

I think with the rise of built-in integration of NFC in mobile phones and tablets, charities could benefit from a contactless donations system. Rather than providing a physical donation, charities could ask people to contribute via contactless payments.

I for one who never carries cash would be more than willing to donate this way – it would be easy…

  1. Take out mobile phone
  2. Type in donation amount
  3. Swipe mobile past the volunteers programmed device
  4. Donation is complete

Based on these short, short steps, I hope you can see how easy and efficient contactless donations via NFC could be. You can understand why Juniper and Google are backing NFC – speed spending frenzies!

Social Remarketing

Taking it a step further (get ready for the digital marketer in me), the charity could send me a nice little receipt saying “Thank you for donating Michael” suggesting I spread the word of my kind actions and pre-populate a status update for my preferred social networks, Facebook and Twitter. Here my friends and followers can digitally reward me for my actions with retweets and ‘Likes’, inadvertently, but in a good way, helping to spread the word of the organisation I donated too. Remarketing lives outside of display don’t you know.

Generation Game

I personally don’t think contactless payments are widely accessible enough for charities to do as proposed. The technology is there or thereabouts, but the will is not. I put this down to the’ generation game’. No, not The Generation Game with Sir Bruce Forsyth, the generation game where it takes a generation to accept and pass on their device to the next, typically the elder generation. For example, me renewing my mobile phone contact, getting a new mobile and giving my old NFC enabled device to my mum – that generation game. Most mobile phone contract lengths in the UK are 18 months now, so I’ll go out a limb and make a suggestion like everyone else and suggest it’s 2016 before the largest (get out clause 1) charities are widely (get out clause 2) using contactless payments via NFC. I hope Im proved wrong, because Im ready to donate.

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  • Sara Chapman

    Let’s take it a step further beyond charitable giving
    through an organization and consider the social implications of this impending
    digital divide on the street level.

    All people have a measurable income. As a previous government
    employee, I know that people who live in poverty claim as low as a penny a day
    to gain government benefits.  If you
    consider the average homeless person begging for money and the decrease in those
    who carry “pocket change,” you can assume that the income of the average homeless
    person has decreased exponentially.  If
    we do not determine a way to utilize technologies such as the NFC system we are
    going to create an income disparity that is so wide, you won’t be able to come
    out of a grocery store without getting mugged. 
    When people get hungry, they get angry.

    We need to create a program that utilizes NFC through a
    cost-effective, “rural” technology that is durable, inexpensive and can be widely
    distributed among the poor.  Grocery
    stores can read their NFC “gadget” directly ensuring that your dollar is going
    to food not drugs – liquor stores would be omitted from this technology similar
    to food stamps. I would be much more willing to give a dollar if I knew it
    could only be spent on food.

    This technology could even integrate government benefits –
    it could be an all-encompassing “debit/identity ” card with a pin which could ultimately
    decrease violence among homeless for hard currency and even drug use, though I
    know that is a long shot, the cash enabler is no longer there.

  • Michael Thomson

    Very interesting thought, Sara. I think a lot of people would be more inclined to donate if they knew the end outcome, like you suggest. I can see all sorts of privacy/human rights arguments against such as system, but an opt-out system for those not interested could be used.

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