Wednesday, January 17, 2007

CES 2007: Cash? Card? or Phone?

One of the coolest products I saw at the show was the contactless payment solution being launched by Visa in collaboration with major cell phone manufacturers (Nokia, Motorola and Sony-Erricson). Here is how visa describes the program in their press release on Jan 8, 2007:
The initial version of the mobile payment platform launched on Monday offers
contactless mobile payment, personalization over mobile telephony networks,
coupons and direct marketing. Subsequent versions of the platform, to be made
available later in the year, will include remote payment -- also using mobile
telephony networks -- and person-to-person payment.

Here is how it will work:

  • Buy an NFC-equipped mobile phone (e.g. Nokia 6131NFC shown at CES)
  • Get an NFC-enabled account from your bank (similar to getting a credit card) - will come with all the outrageous fees and hundreds of complicated plans :-(
  • Install an application from your bank onto your phone and activate the NFC payment mechanism
  • Pay for stuff at any place with a RFID payment device by holding your phone 4 - 5 inches from it

Security is ensured by Mastercard and Visa assuming responsibility for items purchased with a stolen phone as they do for credit cards. Users will password-protect their phone's payment mechanism, and Visa will be able to disable any phone remotely after being notified of a theft. Phones will also not transmit the information all the time.

Other applications:

  • Nokia's demoed reading business cards and grabbing hotel information by touching the phone to print ads with RFID tags at the show.
  • Customers will be able to get barcode coupons on the phones and show them to cashiers to get discounts.
NFC Forum is the organization setting the standards to ensure interoperability. It claims to have over 100 members.

Finally, we will be able to do cool stuff with our phones that Europeans and Asians have been showing off for a while!

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