Expect big things in the coming years when it comes to mobile payments, at least that’s what the latest report from ABI Research is telling us.

According to the research firm, 2013 will be the year when Near Field Communication (NFC) leaves its ‘trial phase’ behind and becomes more widespread with 285 shipments of NFC-enabled smartphones expected worldwide.

Recent predictions also suggest that by 2017 the total number of shipments with NFC will come close to a staggering 2 billion including media tablets, gaming consoles and PC accessories, in addition to smartphones.

The technology is mainly seen as offering contactless payments in stores where customers swipe their device over payment terminals equipped with contactless NFC readers. However, the addition of online/offline authentication, retail and loyalty applications, reader functionality and advertising will give service providers news streams of revenue.

Android and WP8 operating systems are already pushing the NFC handset market forward and are even beginning to build into other devices with the addition of NFC into Android tablets and Windows PCs.

However, industry experts believe that touchless mobile payment solutions won’t really take off until Apple enters into the market. The firm has been typically secretive so far about its plans to add NFC functionality into its future iPhones. It may well be that Apple is waiting for others to make the initial move before it makes any decisions.

Whatever Apple decides to do, mobile E-commerce is expected to exceed $1 trillion worldwide by 2017 and NFC is set to become the most popular payment platform followed by point-of-sale payments.

If you want more information on the future of mobile payments and NFC head down to the Mobile World Congress 2013 in Barcelona. For the best in accommodation, arranged transportation, hotel recommendations, and anything else you can think of to make your stay in Barcelona one to remember, look no further than EAS, the travel agent you can trust. With our expert local knowledge we can source rooms in the best hotels, find you the most centrally located apartments and organise all your transportation needs. We’ll even arrange yacht and aircraft charters. Click on this link for more information.