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OPLIN 4Cast #213: Mobile phone payments

Posted in 4cast

iPhone dollar billPerhaps you’ve seen some video of people waving their smartphone at a device to automatically pay a fee. Perhaps you’ve wondered if this is something your library should be investigating as a way for patrons to pay library fees. This week’s OPLIN 4Cast takes a brief look at the rapidly emerging technology of mobile payments. This is not an easy technology—or rather, technologies—to explain in this short format, so the articles cited and quoted below should be considered entry points to deeper information. To start off, however, it’s helpful to clarify some jargon. “NFC” refers to Near Field Communication, in which a smartphone with a special card installed is waved near a reader; “carrier billing” refers to adding the cost of a purchase to the buyer’s phone bill; and “credit card swiping,” in this context, refers to attaching a small credit card reader to a phone.

  • Mobile credit card swiping battle continues: a look at 4 rival technologies (ReadWriteWeb/Sarah Perez)  “Square, the mobile payments company launched in 2009 by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, is the name most often bandied about in tech circles these days when it comes to talk of credit-card swiping attachments made for iPhone. But Square was never alone on the mobile payments battlefront…”
  • Android Market carrier billing comes to AT&T (Ars Technica/Ryan Paul)  “Nokia claims that support for carrier billing has increased Ovi store application sales by more than ten times. The feature has a particularly profound impact in regions where credit cards aren’t ubiquitous. Google could see a similarly dramatic improvement in Android application sales as it gets more network operators on board.”
  • In the works: a Google mobile payment service? (Business Week/Olga Kharif)  “A single NFC chip on a mobile phone would hold a consumer’s financial account information, gift cards, store loyalty cards, and coupon subscriptions, say the people familiar with Google’s plans. Users may also be able to make online purchases from their phones. By scanning a movie poster, for instance, a consumer might read reviews and use the Google service to purchase tickets. ‘NFC could displace the cash register,’ says Charles Walton, chief operating officer for NFC chipmaker Inside Secure. ‘This is going to come superfast.'”
  • 2010 mobile commerce movers and shakers (Mobile Commerce Daily/Giselle Tsirulnik)  “AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile USA and Verizon Wireless have formed a joint venture called Isis, a national mobile commerce network that will let consumers use their mobile phones to make point-of-sale purchases. The initial focus of Isis will be on building a mobile payment network using smartphone and NFC technology to streamline the payments process for consumers and merchants. Isis expects to introduce its service in key geographic markets during the next year.”

Big money fact:
IE Market Research projects that mobile payment transactions will amount to $1.13 trillion globally by 2014.