Coherent regulation best for near field communications | ACMA

Coherent regulation best for near field communications

NFC jpg

ACMA media release 39/2013 – 5 June

Electronic mobile payments are taking off as the use by Australians of near field communications (NFC) enabled smartphones and apps increases.  However, there are emerging concerns about sharing personal information and challenges to the regulation intended to protect users, according to a new Australian Communications and Media Authority paper, Near field communications —Emerging issues in media and communications, Occasional paper 2 (Word| PDF).

In this, the second of a series of four occasional papers addressing various emerging issues in contemporary communications and media, the ACMA discusses the impact on industry, consumers and citizens of tensions inherent in the current regulation of NFC. Assessing these tensions is intended to inform the ACMA’s consideration of regulatory strategies to engage constructively with the developing networked society and information economy.

Mobile devices equipped with NFC are a key technology enabler to the development of electronic mobile payments and many other apps. Fragmented regulation of NFC risks creating costs to industry and confusion for consumers. 

‘From a regulatory point of view, the shifts in communications and media usage that NFC will enable are unlikely to be adequately reflected in existing legislative or regulatory concepts. As NFC-enabled transactions enter the mainstream, we believe that consumers using NFC and related apps would best be protected by a single coherent regulatory framework,’ said ACMA Chairman, Chris Chapman.

By 2014 there will be an estimated 285 million plus NFC-enabled handsets in use in the world.  With more than 70 per cent of all Australians now using a smartphone, Australia is in a strong position for NFC transactions to grow. NFC allows phones to be used for electronic payments like the eWallet, for ‘bump’ apps that share information between two phones and for personalising SmartTags.

‘NFC is another example where digital communications are transforming other sectors of the economy and the way that Australians share information and communicate with each other’ said ACMA Chairman, Chris Chapman. So for Australians using NFC to make mobile payments, there are some important tips to remember:

  • Use the privacy and security settings on the phone to control  who has access to personal and financial data stored in your phone
  • Know how to turn location services on or off so you control who sees where you are
  • Keep tabs on your transactions.

More information is available in the Backgrounder below. To arrange an interview, please contact: Emma Rossi, (02) 9334 7719 and 0434 652 063 or



In this series of occasional papers, the ACMA is again examining issues in contemporary communications and media.  This is an integral part of the ACMA’s regulatory role in facilitating innovative services in the Australian market, as well as assisting individual citizens and consumers to positively manage their communications and media experience.

Near Field Communication– is the second in a series of 4 papers exploring different features of contemporary communications and media.  

Near Field Communication (NFC) is a set of standards allowing low-power wireless links to transfer small amounts of data from one device to another, securely and at very short range.

NFC is an example of a converged communications activity that combines smartphone device functionality, access to spectrum and the downloading of software applications or apps to deliver services.  The NFC market has the potential to grow rapidly in the next five to ten years, particularly for NFC-enabled payments. 

The ACMA has multi-faceted interest in the development of NFC. As the agency responsible for the management of Australia’s radiocommunications spectrum, the potential growth in the use of NFC has implications for future spectrum demand.  From the perspective of consumers, strategies to manage potential risks as well as boost their confidence in the protection of personal or financial information exchanged in NFC-enabled transactions are relevant issues.

Other papers in the series look at:



Last updated: 20 September 2013