Smartphones are slowly replacing traditional dial and text mobile phones, and as they do they gradually change the face of IT and telecoms infrastructure. Soon mobile phones could pose as not only a device to call a friend, but as a passport and credit card.
Morten Hother Sørensen, Vice President at TDC spoke at length at the Next Generation Telecoms Summit about advancements in mobile technology - detailing the future of smartphones arcing towards a complete payment service. Morten suggested that future smartphones would incorporate software to be utilised as a passport, cash, driver's license, public ID, health insurance, debit card and supermarket loyalty cards, among others.
As a mobile banking aid, smartphones could be used for information services, account balance and transfer, transaction history, and could be used as a payment service with P2P payments, tickets, parking, bill payments and used as a debit card, in a store.
The system of relying solely on a mobile phone as an ‘all-in-one' wallet has several advantages, according to the delegates at the summit. From a governmental perspective, removing cash from the system and utilizing mobile payments provide a better opportunity for governments to collect taxes and potentially improve perception of security.
Financially, mobile payments cut out the middle man - in this instance allowing the customer to forgo dealing with a checkout assistant and self-serve, and lower the cost of cash handling. Online transactions (in theory) limit the chances for human error, and with value-based payments and offers, should see increased loyalty from mobile customers.
Those challenges posed at the summit centre around infrastructure; getting the correct support development and increasing processing speeds to speed up point of sale transactions. Morten highlighted that traditional plastic cards would need to be replaced by chip-based UICC SIM, which would be slotted into the phone, and shop terminals would be updated with "NFC readers or made available through SMS or IP-addresses."
In fact, the future of mobile payments isn't very futuristic at all. Starbucks, the coffee giant, has already rolled out a mobile payment scheme which incorporates a ‘pay point' on site which reads a pre-sent Starbuck's card number off a customer's mobile phone.
At the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco, Google's CEO Eric Schmidt confirmed that he thought a Google Android-powered smartphone would eventually replace the credit card. "This could replace your credit card," Schmidt said. "The reason this NFC chip is so interesting is because the credit card industry thinks the loss rate is going to be much better, they're just more secure."
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