Phone home for funds

Pay­ing for some­thing? There will be an app for that soon, writes Jen­nifer DudleyNicholson

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Front Page -

WHY carry a wal­let when your smart­phone can act like cash? Mo­bile phones are close to re­plac­ing ban­knotes in Aus­tralia with a trial that is turn­ing SIM cards into vir­tual credit cards.

The three-month West­pac pi­lot is the first of its kind in the world, as it uses tech­nol­ogy that can be placed inside any Google-based phone to let users pay for goods by tap­ping it at the reg­is­ter.

But the trial is only one ex­am­ple of new mo­bile pay­ment tech­nol­ogy in­tro­duced into our pock­ets.

The Com­mon­wealth Bank is al­ready sell­ing credit-ready Ap­ple iPhone cases for pay­ments on the go, apps such as Kach­ing and ANZ’s goMoney let users pay friends when out, and In­tel is work­ing with mak­ers to re­lease credit card-scan­ning lap­tops next year for quick on­line shop­ping.

MasterCard and Visa are also rolling out tens of thou­sands of con­tact­less card read­ers to Aus­tralian stores to en­able the use of mo­bile tech­nol­ogy.

It’s all adding up to a ‘‘ tip­ping point’’ for the tech­nol­ogy in Aus­tralia, ex­perts say, amid pre­dic­tions smart­phones could be­come Call for cash: Us­ing your smart­phone to make buys is build­ing. wal­lets for many con­sumers within three years.

The fore­casts line up with a new global study from Ju­niper that pre­dicts mo­bile phone pay­ments will ex­ceed $180 bil­lion by 2017.

The West­pac trial, an­nounced yes­ter­day, could fuel large num­bers of mo­bile pay­ments in Aus­tralia due to its self-con­tained ap­proach.

While par­tic­i­pants in the 100-per­son pro­gram will use Sam­sung Galaxy S III hand­sets, the hard­ware used to make pay­ments is not part of the phone.

Fi­nan­cial de­tails are in­stead em­bed­ded in the phone’s SIM card, says Axel Boye Moller, West­pac’s con­sumer lend­ing and pay­ment prod­ucts head.

In fu­ture, West­pac plans to al­low users to add fi­nan­cial de­tails to SIM cards on­line. Users will then be able to hold a phone with the SIM card close to any con­tact­less credit card reader to pay for pur­chases un­der $100, just like a credit card.

Mastercard Aus­tralia in­no­va­tion head Matt Barr says the West­pac trial is an im­por­tant step in Aus­tralia’s mo­bile phone pay­ment fu­ture be­cause it doesn’t re­quire an ex­ter­nal ac­ces­sory or sig­nif­i­cant ef­fort.

‘‘ It’s the first pi­lot of its kind us­ing tech­nol­ogy that’s added inside a phone and that’s an im­por­tant step in terms of get­ting to a mass-mar­ket so­lu­tion,’’ Barr says.

Ear­lier, a Mastercard study found Aus­tralia was slightly bet­ter pre­pared for mo­bile pay­ments than most coun­tries, scor­ing 35.3 points over an av­er­age of 33.2, and 31 per cent of Aus­tralians were fa­mil­iar with buy­ing via phones.

Con­tact­less credit card read­ers needed to re­ceive these pay­ments have al­ready been in­stalled in large re­tail chains in­clud­ing Coles, 7-Eleven, JB Hi-Fi and Boost Juice, with Wool­worths also rolling out the tech­nol­ogy.

Boye Moller says this in­fra­struc­ture, com­bined with new tri­als, has de­liv­ered a ‘‘ tip­ping point’’ for the tech­nol­ogy, and Com­mon­wealth Bank cor­po­rate bank­ing so­lu­tions ex­ec­u­tive gen­eral man­ager Kelly Bayer Ros­marin says con­sumers are ready.

The Com­mon­wealth Bank be­came the first Aus­tralian bank to of­fer mo­bile pay­ment tech­nol­ogy with its Kach­ing app and ac­com­pa­ny­ing iCarte case for the iPhone, and is plan­ning more pay­ment apps, in­clud­ing one on Face­book.

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