TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Cell Phones Now Playing Role of Wallet

Cell Phones Now Playing Role of Wallet

Monty Solomon (
Sat, 18 Jun 2005 00:11:34 -0400

By BRUCE MEYERSON AP Business Writer

NEW YORK (AP) -- Already a device of multiple disguises, from camera
to music player and mini-TV, the cell phone's next trick may be the
disappearing wallet.

After all, since more than a quarter of the people on the planet
already carry around cell phones, and hundreds of millions are
joining them every year, why should they bring along credit and debit
cards when a mobile device can make payments just as well?

At the simplest level, all that's needed is to embed phones with a
short-range radio chip to beam credit card information to a terminal
at a store register. It's not unlike the wireless system used to pay
tolls on many highways or the SpeedPass keychain wand used to buy gas
at Exxon Mobile Corp. pumps.

This is already a reality in Japan, where NTT DoCoMo Inc. says 3
million cell phone subscribers use its Mobile Wallet service to buy
things at 20,000 stores and vending machines.

Similar services may be on the way in the United States and Europe.
MasterCard International Inc. has been testing phone-based versions of
its PayPass contactless payment technology since 2003, and may conduct
a significant market trial next year.

But there also are more ambitious visions brewing that contemplate the
cell phone as a new focal point for managing your personal
finances. The phone would supplant not only credit and debit cards,
but wallets, checkbooks, Web sites, computer programs like Quicken,
and online bill payment services such as PayPal or CheckFree.

While the mightiest players in Western banking have yet to embrace
that notion, and some are dubious of the appeal, the concept has drawn
interest in other regions and may get a tryout here soon.


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