In the evolution of Near Field Communication-based mobile payment technology, 2011 was a big leap forward for NFC handset distribution. But experts are stopping short of calling it an unqualified watershed year in NFC development.

“After seven or so years of false dawns and frequent disappointment, 2011 has proved to be something of a breakthrough year,” Don Tait, senior analyst at United Kingdom-based IMS Research, wrote in a Dec. 15 report summing up the year’s NFC handset-manufacturing numbers.

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