Initial resistance to using smartphones as credit cards may well be waved aside this year, writes Jennifer Dudley- Nicholson Smartphones are not the only gadgets set to double as credit cards
Your wallet of the future.
WE regularly shop on mobile phones but rarely do we shop with them.
That is poised to change this year as emerging technology transforms smartphones into makeshift credit cards that can be waved at the cash register.
The wallet- challenging additions are already trickling into Australia and more promise to arrive later this year in both phones and laptops. But even its proponents warn that users may take time to become comfortable with new credit technology, although they insist the hi- tech transactions will be just as safe as traditional payments.
Near Field Communication, better known as NFC, is behind the trend to transform credit card payments.
NFC is a method of wireless communication, like Bluetooth, that uses a chip to transmit a high- frequency signal up to 10cm away.
These NFC signals can be read by non- contact payment devices such as Master card Pay pass and Visa Pay wave terminals now in retail chains, including IGA, 7- Eleven and Woolworths. Coles has committed to add the technology to its stores by mid- 2012.
Only credit cards could use these terminals until late last year when the Commonwealth Bank launched its Kaching app and accompanying icarte case for the iphone4.
The NFC case lets users wave their phone in front of a terminal to make payments of up to $ 100. The Kaching app is currently the most downloaded financial offering in Apple’s App Store.
Google’s Galaxy Nexus phone, released late last year, also contains an NFC chip and appears to be the first in a wave of NFC phones destined for Australia.
Samsung, Sony, RIM and LG all showed off NFC- compatible smartphones at the Consumer Electronics Show recently and LG Mobile Communications national account manager Ben Glimmer vene says Australia will see plenty of the new technology this year.
Glimmer vene says every LG smartphone released from June onwards will come with a built- in NFC chip ready to support credit card use.
‘‘ NFC is really going to be huge in 2012,’’ he says.
Gartner analyst Mark Hung forecasts the number of NFCloaded smartphones to exceed more than 100 million by the end of the year and will make up half of all smartphones by 2015.
But smartphones are not the only gadgets set to double as credit cards.
Intel also demonstrated Ultrabooks at CES that let users make online purchases by sweeping a credit card over the keyboard. Intel executive Gordon Dolfie says the company teamed with Master card to create the new feature that will be added to Ivy Bridge Ultrabooks mid- year.
Dolfie says the NFC feature works using new hardware that reads the credit card’s chip without storing any of its information.
Once a credit card is touched to an Ultrabook’s reader, it can automatically fill in financial details in an online order form.
Websites will require upgrades to use the NFC technology, but Dolfie says Intel has already started work with online shops, including Target, to offer the service.
‘‘ This has been something that has been talked about for a long time but it will finally happen in 2012,’’ he says.
‘‘ It will be more convenient but what Intel is really trying to do is make it more convenient and more secure – that’s important.’’
But Dolfie says it is likely to take consumers some time to get used to the service.
‘‘ All the technological pieces are finally there, the last piece of the puzzle is just consumer adoption,’’ he says.
NEW WAVE: Google’s Stephanie Tilenius says smartphones will be the wallet of the future.