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May 01 2011

MIT Technology Review - Turning Your Phone into a Wallet

 

By Erica Naone

Technologies already exist that could allow mobile phones to function as payment devices. Near-field wireless chips can pass information to reading devices at distances of up to a few centimeters. In fact, consumers in Japan and Korea already use phones containing such chips to pay for public transit, buy snacks from vending machines, and check in to flights.

These chips are expected to appear in growing numbers of smart phones, but clever apps are needed to make payment services more attractive. For mobile payment systems to really take off, says Christina Nguyen White, a user experience designer at SapientNitro, applications will have to do more than just replace the cash part of the transaction; they'll need to incorporate the functions of other things people carry in their wallets, such as ID cards and store loyalty cards. "A digital wallet is literally taking that fat wallet out of your purse or your pocket and sticking it in a digital device," White says.

www.technologyreview.com

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