Sprint on Thursday announced the launch of a new platform called Pinsight Touch that will let businesses incorporate Near Field Communication (NFC) technology into their branded mobile applications.
Powered by Sprint partner Sequent Software, the technology would allow end users to potentially make retail payments, as well as things like accessing public transit systems or unlocking their hotel room door by tapping their NFC-enabled phones on compatible readers. Pinsight Touch also securely stores users’ credit card information, according to Sprint.
To date, the No. 3 U.S. wireless carrier says about a dozen of its devices come with built-in NFC chips, including the Samsung Galaxy S4, the LG Viper 4G, and the Samsung Nexus S 4G, with more on the way later this year and in 2014.
So far, no brands, business or other organizations have incorporated Pinsight Touch into their apps, a Sprint spokesperson said, though talks are underway. “We think this is something that will improve the links that retailers and app developers have with customers,” he said.
The challenge for Sprint is that NFC has not gained wide adoption yet among U.S. retailers, device manufacturers and consumers. Underscoring that point, Google last month rolled out a new version of Google Wallet that doesn’t require the app to be used only with NFC-equipped phones. Separately, non-NFC-based mobile payment services like Square Wallet, PayPal and potentially Apple’s iBeacon feature could further curb NFC’s growth.
The lack of NFC capability in the new iPhone is also seen as a blow to the technology gaining wide traction.
Sprint is trying to boost interest in Pinsight Touch by tying it to the Pinsight Media+, the personalized ad-targeting service it launched last year with Amobee. The service gives advertisers access to its mobile portal, ad networks including Jumptap, and third-party publishers such as Accuweather.
Developers and publishers could potentially use the platform to promote their apps with targeted messages across the carrier’s online and mobile properties. Sprint had 53 million subscribers as of the second quarter, but continued to shed customers, including 1 million contract subscribers during the period.