Monday, August 22, 2011


Mobile phones are just about everywhere in America. About 90% of us have one or more. We are a little slow in the transition from binary to smart phones, but we're getting there. Where we are really lacking is the ability to pay for small and large purchases through our mobile like a credit card. But that's about to change.
A growing number of service providers are developing safe payment options through some of the major credit card companies while others are heading for direct mobile credit billing. Skipping the credit cards all together.
South America and Asia have been paying for soda and candy with mobile phones at vending machines for years. The technology isn't new. The reluctance of Americans to trust their financial safety holds us back. With millions of people in other countries already comfortable with such daily purchases with little record of abuse, is it time for us to leave the wallets at home and trust our phones?
In a recent article in Forbes, Beth Robertson of Javelin Strategy said: "The rest of the world is kind of ahead of us in this area. There are a number of global markets where you can essentially hold your phone near a device and authorize payment from your bank account or cellular bill or do person-to-person payment by texting someone. Most of the options take the credit card out of the equation."
You need only experience the Speed Pass at the Thruway entrance or the Speedy Pay at the gas pump to see how this would work. Have we gotten comfortable with those options yet? I'm kinda thinking yes.
A recent piece in the NY Times highlighted some independent non-credit-card options coming out. One example is Xipwire, a new mobile payment system which lets people make retail purchases or do peer-to-peer transfers via texting. 
You've seen the new square barcode on select advertisements and websites by now. Well the same individual code could be used to purchase merchandise by displaying your own barcode on your screen facing a screen reader. That technology is coming from FaceCash. You just hold up your mobile screen, which displays a barcode and a photo ID, up to a barcode reader. Once authenticated, the purchase is debited directly from a bank account. 
 But that's not all. Think FaceBook couldn't get more into your personal business?Along comes ZONG. Through a FaceBook credit system, you could use your phone to pay for goods on websites and have the bill merged with your mobile bill.
In one edition of Parking Today, they did a piece on mobile phone scanning strategies for parking lot kiosks. That was of course back when we were researching meters for the city. By now, someone should have advanced that technology somewhere. If we ever build a parking garage in Kingston, we'll have to pursue a market testing grant for the installation.
But getting back to the current topic, the general sense is that if it were to catch on in the States, it would be on the east coast first. Are we close enough to NYC to think we'll get to see it by 2015? I really don't know what's taking us so long.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Just to give you a heads-up, Square is already out in the news and getting good reviews. It'sa creation of Twitter founder Jack Dorsey who says that its iPhone and Android applications are live, and that it has begun to ship its first wave of credit card readers.
You may see them in Kingston sooner than you think.