Contactless mobile payments are already commonplace in some parts of the world, but uptake has been slow in Europe. Reuters Technology Correspondent looks at the future of near-field communications in the near-term.
Mobile payments are already mainstream in some markets, but in Europe the uptake has been slow. At the recent Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, a familiar message was ringing out. That contactless payments are to become commonplace in the near-term. Louise Farrant demonstrates how the technology called Near-field communications - or NFC - works. SOUNDBITE: Louise Farrant, Marketing Director, Mobile NFC Services saying (English): "We've got a BlackBerry handset that's NFC-enabled. It's got an NFC chip in it. Alongside that it's got a SIM card with the Visa PayWave application on it. The vending machine itself is progammed to accept Visa PayWave which means you don't need any money or any change. So you literally push the go button. Choose the product that you want. Present your handset. It authorizes your payment and it vends your machine. The payment is taken from your Visa credit card." And, Farrant says, the unlocking power of the mobile doesn't stop there. SOUNDBITE: Louise Farrant, Marketing Director, Mobile NFC Services saying (English): "This is a car sharing scenario. If you want to hire a car you log into a car sharing server. It sends an SMS to confirm that it's actually you that's hired the car. You approve the SMS. You're then sent a secure key to your SIM card which operates the car." In this scenario, the phone not only unlocks the door. It sparks the ignition. SOUNDBITE: Louise Farrant, Marketing Director, Mobile NFC Services saying (English): "It's like having your wallet in your phone. You've got your car keys, your house keys, your credit cards, your bank information. It's all there to hand." While this technology is popular in places such as Korea and Japan, enthusiasm has lagged in Europe. Juniper Networks' vice-president of products and strategy Karim Toubba says many mobile users have concerns. SOUNDBITE: Karim Toubba, Juniper Networks' vice-president of products and strategy saying (English) "More often than not, most users are worried about things that affect their financial data. So usernames and passwords that they use in mobile data or mobile banking that can then be used by the attacker if they get'em to log into the bank and maybe even move funds or extract financial gains for them." SOUNDBITE: Louise Farrant, Marketing Director, Mobile NFC Services saying (English): "It's the same standard you get on your credit card, so if your credit card is safe then the application on your SIM is safe because it's the same standards that apply to both." With mobile phones already a near ubiquitous facet of modern life, this technology does promise to have a sizeble impact on how we go about our daily duties. Matt Cowan, Reuters