For many of us, our cell phones have become something of a pocketbook. We carry our children’s pictures in it, we have our telephone and address book in it, we have a calendar, our lists and we even carry a camera. Why can’t all of the other contents of our pocketbook, our driver’s license, membership cards, and, yes, credit cards, just as easily be on our cell phone?
The Technology Exists
If this were the case we could use our cell phones instead of your credit card to pay bills and manage other financial information. Though all of our personal information is not currently on our phones, you can actually pay bills with your cell phone, but in a restricted way.
There is a way currently to pay for certain items, especially in large cities, for such things that often require cash but which is not often handy. It is now possible to link a credit card to our mobile phone, and be able to pay for restaurant bills, parking meters, and cab fares, using the phone. The problem is that the concept is not yet widely available, and there are a lot of bugs that still have to be ironed out. But there are some payment systems that are currently available.
Mobile Lime is one of the first mobile payment systems in the country that lets you use any cell phone on any carrier to pay for goods and services. The downside: it only works only at merchants that are part of the systems, so far only a few dozen in the Boston area and one in upstate New York.
In California, Black Lab Mobile is offering a similar service, but it is currently only in Beta, and right now you can only use it to use other Black Lab customers. If you owe money to a friend, you are in luck. But the company hopes to let customers pay for theater tickets and restaurant bills using their cell phones in the near future. The system is simple; your credit card account is tied to your phone number; you put the retailer’s number in and dollar amount, and the bill is paid.
Parking Meters Offer the Perfect Opportunity
The problem with parking meters is a notorious one, since not many people can carry the amount of change usually required. In addition, most parking meters require exact change. PayMint parking meter payment system works with city parking departments, and subscribers to the system simply put the number of the meter in their phone and put in the required amount. The best thing about this is that if you are delayed, you simply call in and add more time to the meter. A similar system, MPark, is also available in New York, Las Vegas and Oklahoma City.
It May Go Over The AirWaves
Telephone manufacturers are developing RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) technology that uses radio waves to transmit data from an electronic tag, which can be used for monetary transactions. Nokia already offers RFID in is 3220 phone, and Motorola is testing it.
Leave Your Pocketbook at Home
In some countries, notably cell phone intense use countries such as Japan and Finland, people already have the power to buy goods with their phones. But it is still a new concept and not very widespread yet.
But these limited uses and applications point to one thing. Research and development is moving quickly in the field, and paying by cell phone is definitely going to be part of our future. You may not have to run back into the house if you forgot your pocketbook any more.
We are all aware that identity thieves are everywhere. Is it really a great idea to have your valuable financial details floating around the airwaves? Act now as handheld devices get faster and smarter. Make an attempt to do a people search to hear what others have to say about mobile phone banking.
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