A consortium of technology companies is about to turn mobile phones into high-tech wallets. The technology will let people make cash payments from their phones simply by pointing them at the object they want to buy.
Known as Near Field Communication, it has been jointly developed by Philips and Sony and is expected to be available for use early next year.
“What we’re very excited about with this technology is that it is so simple to use that you just touch things with it,” said Indro Mukerjee, Philips Semiconductor’s head of sales.
The system, which is being introduced by Philips, Sony, Nokia, Samsung and the credit card company Visa, exploits a new development in the retail industry supply chain called Radio Frequency ID which is replacing bar codes.
RFID allows companies to place tiny computer chips in individual items so they can be tracked and also opens a host of new high tech applications such as packages that can tell your fridge when they are about to go off.
By putting a tiny reader for the RFID chips in a mobile phone that uses the NFC radio system the phones can ‘see’ the RFID chips when they are placed close to them.
By working with Visa, Philips and Sony have been able to also build the ‘chip and pin’ computer chips now issued as standard on credit cards so that the phone can buy any object it is placed against.
Pressing a button on the phone will authorise the purchase potentially making cash tills a thing of the past
By taking the RFID ‘bar-code’ information into the phone, the phone owner can authorise the buying of that object with the transaction being sent via the mobile phone to a credit card company.
According to Visa, which for the past two years has been working with Philips on the development of the system, it expects NFC to herald a revolution in the way we spend while cutting down on fraud by getting rid of credit card slips.
According to Visa vice president Debbie Arnold, it is a logical development for both credit cards and mobile phones.
“In the world at the moment there is already a system that uses a card, a phone and a terminal and that is in shops and so if you think about it we were already going in that direction now we will have the ability to take this to other consumer devices.”
Research has indicated that in the modern world there are three things that we check that we have before leaving the house, our keys, wallet and mobile phone.
In the future all of these will be amalgamated into just one device meaning that keys to both our car and house will be ported into mobile phones that are already being developed as the wallet of the future.