Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Phones, credit cards to blend

Phones, credit cards to blend

Published , November 23, 2004, 06:00:01 AM EDT
Ordering a pizza for a late night study group: $10.

Watching the Bulldogs beat Georgia Tech: $8 for students.

Making purchases from your cell phone: priceless.

At least that is what some major communication and credit card companies like Nokia, Motorola, Sony and MasterCard think.

This newest technology, which would allow cell phone users to make purchases via their phones, is part of a growing trend of purchasing power being steered away from computers toward cell phones.

Scott Shamp, academic director of the New Media Institute, said this type of technology is already in use in Europe and has been talked about for at least 10 years. He said it has not caught on in the United States because many people use their computers for purchases.

He said some technology for camera phones use a spot code, or a bar code, for which a camera phone can take a picture of an object or bar code and purchase it through the phone.

"In Europe, you can buy a movie ticket by taking a picture of the spot code on movie posters and buy your ticket that way," he said, "And you get billed through your cell phone bill."

In Finland consumers can use their cell phones to buy a refreshment from a vending machine, he said.

"You get a picture of whatever you want to get from the machine, then you can just swipe your phone over a reader on the machine." he said. "You basically just pay to have the bar code."

The new technology proposed by MasterCard and certain cell phone manufacturers would allow users to purchase products -- like movie tickets, concert tickets, CDs, admittance on mass transit and other products -- straight from their cell phones, according to a Motorola Inc. press release.

Juli Burda, public relation specialist for Motorola Inc. said a few hundred people in the United States currently are testing the program.

The new technology works like this: each cell phone will be incorporated with a contactless payment technology called Near Field Communication -- which acts as both an identification card and a card reader and is embedded in the cell phones -- to scan Radio Frequency Identification marks which can be found on any object which the phone will read.

While advances in technology offer more convenience in everyday life, it also brings with it security issues.

Wesley Coxwell, a junior from St. Oglethorpe, said he likes the idea of the technology but was concerned with how secure his information would be.

"It would be a quick and easy way to save time, as long as there was a kind of security," he said.

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