The number of consumers using contactless Near Field Communication payments may quadruple in the next five years.

Apple's new NFC-based mobile wallet, Apple Pay, is expected to drive the use of contactless technology, according to a new Juniper Research report. Three quarters of smartphones worldwide will contain an NFC chip by the end of the decade, and the number of NFC users will soar to roughly 516 million by the end of 2019, up from 101 million in 2014, Juniper predicts.

The report also found more adoption of Host Card Emulation, a technology that enables contactless NFC payments without requiring access to the handset's secure element. Examples include BBVA and Bankinter in Spain and CUA in Australia, which have launched services and pilots.

However, the report maintains, most retailers remain unclear about the benefits of NFC. A few, including CVS and Rite Aid, shut off support for Apple Pay shortly after the mobile wallet's launch.

"While NFC deployments and consumer activity will be buoyed by these developments, the opportunities for network operator involvement are limited," the author of the report, Windsor Holden, explained in an Oct. 28 press release. "Hence we are likely to see more operators re-evaluating their existing commitments to NFC and possibly withdrawing from the space."

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