Commentary
2/15/2007
08:51 AM
Eric Ogren
Eric Ogren
Commentary

NFC Makes Strides

The idea of making payments with your mobile phone has its appeal, to be sure. With all sorts of trials under way, near field communications seems to be the answer for the cash-challenged.



The idea of making payments with your mobile phone has its appeal, to be sure. With all sorts of trials under way, near field communications seems to be the answer for the cash-challenged.Motorola and Discover Financial Services are the latest organizations to announce a pilot program whereby users can access and view their credit card banking information and use near field communications (NFC)-equipped phones to make "contactless payments." Discover Network's contactless platform, combined with Motorola's "M-Wallet" software, allows cardholders to download any of their Discover Card accounts to their mobile phone. Once the software is downloaded, participants can check credit card balances, review payment history, and receive statements and rewards information. The pilot will involve about 1,000 participants based in the Chicago and Salt Lake City areas. Is this cool?

I think so.

Think of it this way. When you leave your house, what are the three things you always bring with you? Keys, wallet, phone. Now, you can leave your wallet at home. As long as you tie your NFC-equipped phone to a credit card account, you can make contactless payments at over 10,000 retail locations worldwide. Heck, the QuickChek up the street from my house has NFC installed and ready to go, though I have yet to see anyone use the darned thing. (Now if I can only get the bar around the corner to hop on the NFC train...)

The GSM Association made a big push this week at its' 3GSM World Congress to speed the deployment of NFC payments with its "Pay-Buy Mobile" program. "The mobile phone is now becoming an essential life management tool for mobile users," said Rob Conway, CEO of the GSM Association. "By bringing payment capability into the device, users will benefit from the ability to purchase items in a secure and convenient way from the comfort of their own mobile phones, hailing an end to bulky wallets full of notes and coins."

A MasterCard representative I spoke with at CES said it'll reach it's full potential in about 12 to 18 months. "MasterCard has long recognized the global opportunity presented by mobile commerce," said Art Kranzley, group executive, Advanced Payments, MasterCard Worldwide in a statement. "The mobile phone has become a ubiquitous and highly functional device, serving consumer needs well beyond making and receiving calls. Making simple everyday payments with it represents a natural next step, and MasterCard is proud to help make this possible."

I can't wait.

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