One of the biggest obstacles hindering widespread NFC adoption has been the learning curve.

Or rather, the un-learning curve.

Customers are being retrained to reach for their phones instead of their wallets at check-out counters. Most people keep their phones in their hands and their wallets buried in back pockets or purses. However, when it’s time to make the transaction, customers reflexively put away their phones to dig out their wallets.

Ironically, it might be the only time they look away from their phones throughout the entire transaction.

The best way to jolt customers out of their wallet-based complacency is by offering prizes, discounts and other incentives for using NFC technology. This is an easy way to demonstrate how seamless – and, in some cases, fun – tapping can be (after all, gaming is a great use of NFC). Paying with your phone sounds simpler because it is simpler.

Apple recently organized a three-day “Lose Your Wallet” event in which 34 San Francisco-area businesses offered discounts to customers paying with iPhones instead of cash or plastic cards. As one person interviewed in the article says, if people can get used to making habitual purchases like morning coffee with NFC, then “the more likely they are to form muscle memory.”

It seems a bit surprising that a tech-savvy city like San Francisco would have to rely on incentives to get people to adopt a new technology, but that just goes to show how entrenched our check-out habits really are.

At Purple Deck, we believe that once the NFC habit is formed, the transformation will be total. It’s not difficult to imagine a world where wallets are carried solely for fashion purposes the way some people wear watches but still check their phones when they want to know what time it is.

At Purple Deck, we have used a variety of incentives to generate interest in NFC. In March, we announced our TapLive® Innovation Challenge, which invites students, businesses, non-profits and researchers to explore innovative uses of our cloud-based NFC technology.

Then, in June we announced our partnership with Chambers’ Apothecary in which we enabled their shelving with NFC tags to create an interactive shopping experience.

But rural Pennsylvania isn’t tech-friendly San Francisco. In a town where horse-and-buggies are commonplace, it can be difficult to explain why it is important to adopt a new technology.

Chambers’ Apothecary got it. They saw how TapLive could help them to better engage with their customers. The challenge was teaching their customers how – and why – they should use the NFC tags.

Our Marketing & Sales Manager Janelle DelSignore came up with the idea of turning it into a store-wide game. Because TapLive allows for the remote management of NFC tags, we can edit the tags in real time to give their customers exclusive discounts just for tapping. The prize tags are changed as often as Chambers’ Apothecary desires, and customers never know when they will be tapping a winning tag.

The result is that customers spend more time engaging with products, and the pharmacy gains valuable insight from that interaction – all while NFC technology is being introduced in a fun and creative way.

NFC is on the rise, but cutting off our old habits – as we did with our landlines – will be a difficult but definitive transition.

Incentives are a valuable way to ease customers into NFC, and that should be incentive enough for all of the players in the NFC space to work together to increase NFC awareness and get the public onboard.