Phone home for funds
Paying for something? There will be an app for that soon, writes Jennifer DudleyNicholson
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.