Android Rollin' with Digital Plastic Cash




Smart-phones make our lives easier in so many ways. They help us stay connected to family, friends and jobs. They store pictures, music and videos for or personal edification. They give us entertaining games when we are bored and access to the internet when we need information. They pay our bills for us when we are at a coffee shop or restaurant.

Wait.... what was that last one? Yes, you read that right. In many neighborhoods across the globe there are places where your smart-phone becomes a magic wand that you wave in front of a machine to pay for your latte or sandwich. Furthermore, if the many start-up companies that are rolling out this 'not-really new' technology have anything to say about it, it will eventually be in your neighborhood too.

The technology is called near-field communication, or NFC. It is an advanced form of RFID (radio frequency identification), and earlier in November Google demonstrated an Android phone with this technology inside. The NFC chip stores your credit card information and transfers it to the payment processing machine, making the credit and debit cards in your wallet a thing of the past. With this tech, you don't need to sign for anything or even wait for a receipt, because the communication runs two-way. Just before you head out the door a digital receipt is sent back to your phone. If you would like to read more detail about the technology you can check it out here at

Interestingly, there are some retailers that have been using a form of this concept without the technology of the NFC yet. According to this article from, there is a company called MobileLime in Boston that allows you to sign up for their service online and link your banking information to your cell phone number. Then at any of the participating retailers in the Boston you can simply phone in your payment before you leave the establishment. According to the same article there is a similar start-up company in Carlsbad, California, called BlackLab Mobile trying out the same thing. Also, in Coral Gables, Florida you can use the same concept to pay for your downtown parking meter payment and even extend its time.

Digging a little deeper we find that, according to, MasterCard has been experimenting with the technology since 2008! Their mobile wallet service called PayPass, quietly rolled out to test markets in Dallas, TX and is slowly spreading around the country.

Furthermore, according to this article at, “AT&T, Verizon Wirelesss and T-Mobile recently announced a joint venture called Isis to build a mobile payment network based on an NFC system. The first markets should go live within a year and a half. And Nokia and Google have indicated their new 2011 phones will be compatible with it.”

It seems that our smart-phones may just be poised to eliminate the need for our wallets fairly soon. I've always liked the idea of a cashless society, but it does pose some interesting problems as well. What happens when digital thieves figure out a way to crack the security? Also, for some people, having unfettered access to their bank account at any moment might cause them to overspend their budgets.

Still, it's pretty amazing how an idea born from the 1960's 'Star Trek' is reshaping the world. So what do you guys think? Do you like the idea of your cell phone becoming your wallet? Is it an unstoppably cool idea or a scary technology-train-wreck waiting to happen? Sound off with your perspective in the forums.

By DGStorm
As long as there is a 100% reliable lock/wipe feature, then bring it on - possibly even fingerprint recognition to activate :wink:
we're getting close to the wrist barcodes, like in Idiocracy ;)
Personally, I like the idea......

I did not they were using it in the far east somewhere.
I think this would be a great idea as long as they can make sure the information is secure.
I guess it's better than a microchip in your hand.It's a Brave New World we are heading toward.Google "CASHLESS SOCIETY".
Honestly, I like the idea. In Japan, they've been using a similar (or the same) technology in DoCoMo's Osaifu-Keita (lit. Wallet Mobile). This tech is also integrated with Sony's FeLiCa RFID card which makes the phone function that stores info like a digital wallet. Most cellphones in japan come standard with these and even little kids up to adults use these. I'll include this Wikipedia link so you guys can read more.

Osaifu-Keitai - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

and for the people who are interested in the said tech and would like to read about Japan's mobile phone culture.

Japanese mobile phone culture - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Yeah, I do all my banking and bills comfortably online, but I don't do anything sensitive on my Droid.

Besides the obvious problem if your phone gets lost or stolen (I suppose using the lock password would buy time), I just don't like the idea of stuff picking off my banking info on a radio frequency.

Don't know if it's real or not (seem like it would be), but NCIS just a week or two ago had a show where a teen was walking down the street with a device stealing this info from people. Encode a blank credit card and boom you're done.

There's also the typical adoption problem - most people aren't that interested until it is convenient most places, and most places won't spend for the tech until there are enough customers wanting the service to justify the expense.
Well there is a constant emphasis on change in the way we spend money. And it is becoming increasingly more popular to use quick pay methods.

I wouldn't hop on something like this right away but apparently it is the wave of the future.

Two major issues exist:

How secure will it be?

Despite the increased "pace" of society, at what point do we decide what is more productive/effective as opposed to what is just plain lazy?
Despite the increased "pace" of society, at what point do we decide what is more productive/effective as opposed to what is just plain lazy?

Good point. There is some of that going on, but this does make sense although I share your concerns.

I only carry a few cards, but I still need my wallet because I do carry some cash. But eliminating the need to carry those cards & ID would be nice, especially if stuff like your auto insurance card could be automatically updated. Actually can't see an ID on your mobile flying with Airport security and the like - too many possibilities to be manipulated or altered. Unless it can all be on my mobile it is, as you said, not much of a convenience.

Problem as I see it is online banking has yet to prove to be 100% secure, and most of the problem lays more in retailers/banks getting hacked than your computer being unsecure. This tech IMO is a long ways away from being reliably secure on mobile.
Just think its a bad idea. When it comes to computers and networks they will always be able to be hacked!!! I see no problem with carrying a wallet around, and im a tech head. I will be the last person in line for this!!! :icon_evil:
This is a big step toward having a cashless society. You know, where some hacker steals all of our financial info and leaves us completely cashless...flat broke.
I'd def love this feature.... sync it with a pre-paid card (to prevent major damages in the event of theft) and I'd be all over this.