Report: Most Canadians will use smartphones to purchase items

The Right Click

According to a first-of-its-kind survey conducted by Rogers Communications Inc. and Vision Critical, 79 per cent of Canadians believe people will use their smartphones to make purchases over the next few years.

That's nearly 4 in 5 Canadians who will use their mobile phones like a digital wallet, of sorts, to purchase items instead of relying on cash or cards.

Not surprisingly, this Rogers Innovation Report -- created to gauge tech trends among Canadians in 2012 and beyond — found 85 per cent of respondents "very attached" to their mobile devices, with 22 per cent saying they "would be lost without" their smartphones.

One technology that might facilitate mobile payments is near-field communication (NFC), a shortwave wireless radio built into the smartphone. When you want to purchase a product or service, simply swipe a small sensor near the cash register's terminal (or tap a vending machine) and the funds will be withdrawn from your bank account.

NFC can also be used to exchange funds between people — such as tapping two NFC-enabled smartphones together — as well as other applications. For example, swipe the smartphone against a movie poster at a movie theatre and the trailer to an upcoming film is downloaded to the device.

Many Android phones today have NFC, such as the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, as does the BlackBerry Bold 9900 and rumoured to be in the upcoming iPhone 5.

While NFC might be the key to mainstream adoption of mobile payments, a few obstacles must be overcome before they could be deployed by the mainstream.

Security is one concern, to ensure NFC-based transactions can withstand threats from hackers and criminals determined to exploit the technology.

There also lacks a universal standard at this point, which could be another big hold up, plus retailers must also be equipped with NFC terminals, which might not be cheap to implement on a mass scale.

The strong interest in mobile payments is but one of the findings in the Rogers Innovation Report:

Laptops downsizing: 85 per cent of those surveyed believe laptops will continue to get smaller and lighter and fit into a handbag. Expect "ultrabooks" to be one of the bigger trends at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Vegas next month.

Speed demon: 83 per cent believe faster networks are on their way (including Long-Term Evolution or LTE speeds), allowing mobile users to seamlessly play mobile games, stream videos, movies and music on the go.

Home, smart, home: 82 per cent say devices will be connected to one another, including the ability to control systems in the home -- such as adjusting heat and air conditioning and accessing lights, security cameras and alarms. Speaking of Rogers, this year the company launched its Smart Home Monitoring service, allowing you to control everything with a smartphone, tablet or laptop.

Care for the cloud: 81 per cent say they'll be able to access all of their digital content — such as music, movies, photos and documents — anywhere, at any time, on virtually any device. The majority of respondents (68 per cent) believe technology advancements will translate to less clutter as content will be stored virtually.