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Phones become wallets

Mobile phone payments could make credit cards unnecessary

  • Key4Communications

Mobile phones are not only used increasingly to make purchases, but also to pay, replacing credit cards.

It may seem that businesses and users of this method are not many, but the research firm Gartner expects 141.1 million users of mobile payment systems worldwide by the end of the year, an increase of 38.2% from 2010. These users will make purchases totalling $86.1 billion, 75.9% more than last year.

Moreover, although consumers still prefer credit cards, according to a study by Royal Bank of Scotland and the consultant firms Capgemini and Efma, 15% of all payments other than cash or transfers will be made by phone by 2013. Juniper Research estimates that one in six Americans will use their mobile to conduct financial transactions around 2015.

Companies are already launching their mobile payment systems. For example, Visa has developed Paywave and Google has launched Google Wallet, which allow payments just by phone.

These projects use the most extended technology for mobile payments: NFC (near field communications), which allows the phone to communicate with a store reader that will access and verify digital funds and limits. For example, Google Wallet can be linked to associated credit cards or even gift vouchers. Buyers just need to bring the phone near to this device and after entering the pin code, the application will discount the price of products purchased.

Some companies are opting for other methods: PayPal and Starbucks are developing alternatives based on bar code reading systems, which have the advantage of not requiring new terminals.

PayPal is in fact preparing retail solutions that include the possibility to make payments from any device and not only mobile phones, in addition to its own credit card and mobile advertising services based on geolocation.

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