News & Views - Savantor

Mobile Payments

Monday, 01 October 2007

Not much to report in the product launch section in this edition presumably due to the fact that Cartes is on the horizon.  However, one item of interest looking to the future is the NTT DoCoMo concept to one day sell a handset that lets you make electronic payments while the phone stays in your pocket.

Using mobile phones to pay for goods electronically is common in Japan, the world's biggest market of 3G mobile users, where phones are swiped at ticket gates or vending machines to pay for train fares or drinks.  Use of phones rather than contactless cards in this context has been responsible for Japan being the first country to experience a decline in the number of coins produced.

The phone, which uses a sensor made by start-up Kaiser Technology, sends electric signals through the human body to transmit data, enabling electronic payments or data transfer at the touch of a finger.  Doors to secure areas would open as your phone transmits your ID code through your feet, or you could get in a car and have the car instantly adjust the seat and steering wheel to the perfect angle.  But it will take several years before the new touch-sensitive handsets are ready, reliable and safe for market.

This is all well and good and I'm sure it will appeal to someone but as far as the near future is concerned it is far more likely that NFC enabled mobiles will allow us to do things like choose to pay by debit or credit and verify by PIN or fingerprint, automatically set up a link with another NFC mobile by touching rather than by the tedious Bluetooth method (does anyone do that more than once?), wave the phone over a terminal to pay for low value items and allow me to top up my prepaid card on the phone from my debit card also on the phone thereby removing the need for ATMs.  Give us that on mobiles rather than making doors open and the business case takes care of itself.

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