The New York Times writes:
By embedding in the cellphone a computer chip or other type of memory device, a phone can double as a credit card. The chip performs the same function as the magnetic strip on the back of a credit card, storing account information and other data necessary to make a purchase.
In Asia, phone makers are already selling phones that users can swipe against credit or debit card readers, in much the same way they would swipe plastic MasterCard or Visa cards. Trials are now under way to bring the technology to America, industry executives said.
Ron Brown, executive director of the Infrared Data Association, a trade group representing companies pushing the technology for cellphone credit cards, said that the new handsets could become “a major form of payment, because cellphones are the most ubiquitous device in the world.” He added, though, that “cash will never go away.”
Advocates say that consumers will readily embrace the technology as a way to pay for even small purchases, because it is less bother than taking a credit card out of a purse or parting with cash.