US cellphone carriers check out mobile payments

August 3rd, 2010 - 5:25 am ICT by IANS  

San Francisco, Aug 3 (DPA) The days of plastic credit cards could be numbered if tests of a mobile payment system by top US cellphone companies proves successful.
The experiment, reported Monday by Bloomberg, allies cellphone giants Verizon and AT&T with credit-card company Discover and banking giant Barclays to allow customers to pay for goods and services by holding their phone near specially equipped cash registers.

The experiment raises the momentum in the mobile payments field, where leading credit-card companies Visa and Mastercard are already working on a separate system to allow customers to pay without having to physically swipe their cards.

Similar systems are already in place in many European countries and South-East Asia, while many developing countries allow the transfer of mobile credits as a form of currency.

Such technologies have been slow to catch on in the US, where the use of credit cards is well entrenched and there is a lack of common standards to support widespread adoption of a new payment technology.

The new system would use a technology called near-field communications to process payments via users’ phones. The purchase amount would then be added to the consumer’s mobile-phone bill.

Verizon and AT&T are the two largest cellphone carriers in the US, and their cooperation on the trial could give the project a critical push. The companies declined to comment on the report directly.

AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel told reporters: “We are always looking at ways to serve customers better, and mobile payments is a logical step for consumers.”

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