NFC can be used for so much more than just making payments. When you don't have it, you don't realize its potential. So when you find out that the new iPhone won't have it, who cares because you've never had the opportunity to see what it can do. But NFC really is a powerful technology. Sure, making payments is one obvious use, but there are so many more. The near field cards that you often use to gain entry into various doors of office buildings are a similar technology. But that's just another big fat card you have to carry around. What about the near field key fobs that you need on your keychain to start your car and gain keyless entry? Similar. Credit cards have it already and the technology is already there. Every seen a 'Pay Wave' terminal?
I have a bunch of 'Smart Tags' that are basically small chips on a white paper sticker. The tag gets programmed to do anything your phone does. Just 'tap' the tag with your NFC phone, and the pre-programmed feature or macro runs. For example, I get in my car after work, 'tap' the tag on my dashboard, and a macro runs that opens the traffic app, determines the best route for me to get home, estimates my time of arrival, and sends my wife a text message saying I'll be home at about 6:13. It's generally good for +/- 5 minutes. When I get home, I 'tap' another tag to turn on the wifi, turn off the bluetooth, and change my sound profile. Pretty basic stuff really but it really makes a lot of difference when the basic things that you do every day are just automated by a simple 'tap'. I'd love to be able to 'tap' a tag when I come in the door to turn up the A/C or furnace and flick on a few lights and whatevery else I do every day when I come in.
NFC is alos used to share information between devices, not just money. Sharing photos, contact information, music, websites, anything you have on your phone. The new Galaxy S3 commercials show this effectively.
Using NFC to making payment on your phone is a VERY limited application. But, having said that, digital currency is a bit far away but its being worked on now. The MintChip Challenge Imagine being able to trade digital cash between two devices without any 'cloud' involvement. No banks, no Apple, no Google, just straight cash from one person to another. You touch your phone to mine and we just traded $2.60 for that coffee I bought you. There's no line item that shows up on my bank statement and Google doesn't have to send me an ad about the new coffee place around the corner. There's no privacy concern whatsoever because there was no cloud. It's like taking a $5 bill out of your pocket and handing it over.
I'm quite disappointed that Apple is not going with NFC. I've always joked (kind of) that NFC won't really take off mainstream until Apple invents it. Since they don't seem to want to invent it yet, seems like we'll have to wait till the next iteration. If I were an iPhone user, I would be disappointed.