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Qualcomm Paves Way For Mobile Payments

The company has added support for Near Field Communication technology in some of its mobile chipsets, which could lead to phones that can be used as mobile wallets.
Qualcomm envisions a near future where consumers can use a cell phone as a replacement for their wallet. The company has added support for Near Field Communication technology to some of its mobile chipsets.

NFC is a short-range wireless connectivity technology that operates at 13.56 MHz and can be used for a secure, contactless exchange of data. For example, a phone equipped with this technology could be swiped near a compatible terminal to pay for things like products and mass transportation fees. The phone could be tied to a user's bank account, credit card, or other financial account like PayPal.

"NFC technology holds great potential for changing the way mobile devices are used," said Mike Concannon, Qualcomm's senior VP of product management, in a statement. "As part of our ongoing commitment to deliver leading-edge technologies and value to our customers, we are now engaged with leaders in NFC technology to offer reference designs that have this next-generation functionality."

Mobile payments may be seen as the most attractive feature of NFC, but it also offers a larger range of possibilities. For example, a business card could be equipped with NFC technology, and the contact information could be wirelessly transferred to the handset.

Mobile phone users in Japan have been using this technology for years to pay for products and tickets, but it hasn't really caught on in many parts of the world. The GSM Association is trying to push adoption, and it recently called for mainstream cell phones to sport NFC technology by the middle of this year.

Nokia recently brought out a cell phone that utilizes this technology. The 6212 is a 3G handset with a candy-bar design, and can be used as a mobile payment device.