When word began to spread about Apple’s iBeacon, many observers proclaimed that the technology would supplant Near Field Communications (NFC) as a mobile payment medium.
That assessment, however, misses a key point: It is an apples-and-oranges comparison.
iBeacon (and PayPal’s Beacon, which was coincidentally rolled out about the same time) are not, of themselves, a technology. They are but an extension of a technology called Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), which has been around for almost a decade. (NFC is based on RFID tech that dates to the 1940s.)
BLE has a number of use cases. So does NFC. But because of how the respective technologies work, they are not the same sort of use cases.