WSJ writes about how “credit-card companies, cellphone operators and retailers alike are aiming to create a phone that can be used any time, anywhere, to charge anything — even the time on a parking meter.”
Some of the systems use phones that emit an infrared beam or radio wave directly to a cash register; others involve a special chip embedded in the phone that can be waved over a scanner; and one has no new technology at all, using just a simple text message from the customer’s bank to his phone to authorize a credit transaction.
The payoff for everyone from banks to telecom companies could be enormous. In Japan and China, people are more likely to have a cellphone than a credit card. Moreover, by pushing the credit card from the wallet to the phone, banks and card companies believe they can hook a new generation of consumers on the idea of charging things that today are covered by pocket change. For mobile-telephone operators, that would not only increase data traffic on their networks, but also place the cellphone even more squarely at the center of people’s daily lives.