NEW YORK, Aug 6 — The smartphone wallet revolution is coming — some would say it is already here — but is it time to start leaving your wallet at home and using your smartphone to pay?
That all depends on where you live and how comfortable you are with letting your smartphone take the place of your “trusted” credit cards and cash.
Privacy and security concerns aside, if you’re not living in the US or mobile payment-advanced countries like Japan, you might have a hard time paying for your groceries or taking your friends out for a drink equipped with just your smartphone and a smile (unless of course you have a particularly nice smile).
So where and how can you use your mobile phone to pay for goods RIGHT NOW you might ask?
Well if you live in the US and have an NFC-equipped Android smartphone (or an iPhone in many cases), you’re in luck.
More options, more players
In September 2011 Google launched its mobile payment solution called Google Wallet, giving users the ability to pay for goods and automatically redeem or earn loyalty points, coupons and special offers at selected retailers in the US. This past week Google Wallet added online use as well as support for credit and debit cards from American Express, Discover, Mastercard and Visa (previously only working with Citibank and MasterCard). The cloud-based update also means that Google now transfers sensitive information to secure Google servers rather than storing it on the secure storage area of a smartphone and that users can sync the payment system across devices and remotely disable it if they choose.
While Google is one of the most prominent companies pushing for a mobile payment revolution within the US, device makers HTC, LG, Motorola Mobility, RIM, Samsung Mobile, and Sony Ericsson will introduce NFC-enabled mobile devices with Isis mobile wallet technology to “accelerate adoption of mobile commerce” this summer.
Companies such as Square and PayPal are also successfully helping to lift the profile of the smartphone wallet in the US and abroad.
PayPal recently acquired Cardi.io, a company that enables consumers to pay for goods by taking a photo of their credit card with a mobile phone, and has been beefing up its smartphone payment efforts with a Square-like mobile payment dongle and updated mobile payment apps.
Square has been facilitating mobile payments on iOS and Android devices since 2010 and has become a popular mobile payment solution for many small businesses.
Mobile payments are gaining momentum in the US, more than doubling in popularity from 2011. Over 33 per cent of consumers in the country said they paid for goods and services using their mobile device according to a recent report by market researcher IDC.
NFC-equipped phones in your future
Mobile payments are expected to grow even more in the next few years. Technology is rapidly evolving and influential companies are investing a lot of time and money into mobile payment solutions that make it easy for you to pay with your smartphone.
A September 2011 report by market researcher iSuppli predicted that shipments of cell phones equipped with NFC technology are set to rise to 544.7 million units in 2015, up from 56.2 million in 2010.
“This strong growth will be facilitated by the increasing number of applications NFC has to offer, ranging from mobile payments to linking with computer and cellphone peripherals, to interacting with the environment,” said iSuppli.
By the year 2016, market researcher Berg Insight expects global shipments of NFC-enabled smartphones to reach 700 million units, up from 30 million units in 2011.
Both Apple and Microsoft will look towards mobile payments in their next-generation mobile operating systems.
Integration in apps and operating systems
With the launch of Windows Phone 8 Microsoft will introduce Wallet hub, the company’s answer to Google’s NFC payments. Microsoft’s digital Wallet will enable consumers to store debit and credit cards, coupons, boarding passes and pay with a tap of the phone using a secure SIM produced by a carrier.
Apple’s mobile payment solution might be a bit further off, however rumours suggest that the next-generation iPhone will be equipped with NFC connectivity too.
The introduction of iOS 6 this spring will see Apple launch Passbook, an app that stores all your loyalty cards, boarding passes and receipts in the one place, but the future looks even more interesting.
Earlier this year Apple was awarded a major patent for what is rumoured to be its forthcoming “iWallet app.”
The Apple iWallet patent describes ways in which Apple intends to give consumers control over how they pay for items (using payment options such as iTunes credit, store cards, and bank accounts) and enables them to set up their own limits or transaction restrictions based on criteria including particular time periods, geographic regions, merchant categories or aggregate spending limits.
While the future of mobile payments is exciting, the technology is not quite ready for you to forget your wallet and go shopping with your smartphone. — AFP-Relaxnews