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NFC: More than just mobile payments

Mobile World Congress showed more than just new NFC-supported phones, it also displayed how you can use the technology.

The NFC Cafe displayed a selection of NFC-capable smartphones. Kent German/CNET

Mobile World Congress isn't just about introducing new cell phones. No, the world's largest wireless show in Barcelona, Spain, also is about showing off the latest mobile technologies that may or may not change your life.

Take, for example, NFC or near field communications. Not only did many of the new devices unveiled at the show come NFC-capable, but also the NFC Cafe displayed a gallery of solutions for mobile payments technology.

Making a purchase is a prime example, of course, but NFC also can be used to secure your motorcycle, navigate your way through an unfamiliar subway system, and check in for Foursquare. There are a realm of possibilities, to be sure, and I took the opportunity to check them out while roaming the show floor.

We'll have to wait, of course, to see whether all the possible solutions will make it to market. Though common abroad, NFC is still growing in the United State with carriers largely in control. Consider that while Verizon Wireless has effectively blocked Google Wallet on its Samsung Galaxy Nexus, Sprint has included the feature on its version of the Android smartphone.