Listen up: Paying by earring could be closer than
you think. Mobile providers are busy devising new ways to make it
easier for us to pay on the go.
Here are examples of existing and pilot payment programs
from around the world:
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In Istanbul, mass-transit riders can wave the Dallas Semiconductor
iButton, a coin-size radio-frequency-identification device, or
RFID, that automatically debits the train fare from their accounts.
In Japan, NTT DoCoMo's wireless network enables you to deposit
cash into a special ATM-like device that loads your chip-embedded
cell phone with electronic cash up to 50,000 yen ($479). Payment
for everything from meals to vending machine products to video
games is then just a phone wave away.
In Orlando, MasterCard is testing PayPass, an RFID chip embedded
in a credit card that works with a wave across a receiver instead
of a swipe. Other form factors it is considering include earrings
In Seattle, if you park at a Verrus-equipped parking spot, you
can pay by dialing toll-free from your cell phone and keying in
your space number. If you're running late, you can buy more time.
Some Verrus systems even remind you when you're meter is about
In Texas, Pay By Touch enables you to register your fingerprint
on an electronic pad, swipe in your payment card(s) of choice,
select a seven-digit PIN and create a fingerprint-based wallet.
The next time you pay, you simply place your finger on the scanner,
punch in your PIN, select the card you want debited and you're
on the road. A cell-phone-based version also is being considered.
Jay MacDonald is a contributing
editor based in Mississippi.