SMART­PHONES

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

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Front Page -

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.

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