Oh dear another "journalist" who couldn't be bothered to research the topic properly. There has been quite a choice of NFC equipped handsets in the UK for at least several months. Some manufacturers like Sony have more than one model, so does Nokia and Samsung, in fact just about the only comapny turnong its back on NFC is Apple - once again not ready for prime-time.
Yes, RFID has been around for years and is essentially the same technology but it uses a low radio frequency (125KHz) which enables a longer reading-range. NFC uses a much higher frequency (13.56MHz) which has benefits such as preventing the two systems from interacting in any way, and the receiving distance is shorter which assists the security of a transaction.
The technology is mature, applications are simple to write and thus plentiful - just look at the selection of Android apps as an example, and many consumers are eager to use the tachnology if only it would be made more available.
What is holding it back is the various service companies fighting tooth and nail to get in on the act.The banks of course feel that anything to do with money is their god-given right, so do the credit-card companies. Now too the mobile service providers see an opportunity to influence and control their customers to an even greater degree and quite overlook the obvious point that shopping transactions are absolutely none of their business. Just the thought of permitting these providers to become involved in this should fill us all with fear - after all they do not have a great reputation for keeping consumers' accounts straight as it is, what will happen if they have some control over our credit-cards and/or bank accounts too?
Now almost unnoticed in all this is that all these companies who are salivating over the thought of becoming involved and whose in-fighting is actually delaying the roll-out, are all expecting to be paid for handling our money. Who is going to pay them - the consumer? Surely not, we do not actually see the handling charges from the credit-card companies, we carefully seek out ATMs that do not charge us, so I hardly think we will be happy to accept new charges for the privilege of waving a phone at a terminal instead of a card !