Digital Wallets: Cellphone Technology with Retail Impact
An E-ZPass style feature that turns cell phones into credit cards or metro passes with one swipe is hitting the streets of New York next week in a trial sponsored by Nokia, Citigroup, Mastercard and Cingular Wireless. Hundreds of Cingular subscribers will test a new Nokia phone, the N6131, which is embedded with an NFC chip, the Near Field Communication industry standard technology that allows phones to communicate with special readers.
Nokia’s Jason Fitzgerald demonstrated the N6131 on the showfloor at CES this week, showing off the phone’s ability to both give and take digital information when it is held very close to a sensor. When Fitzgerald held the phone up to a movie poster, the handset’s display immediately started playing a movie trailer. When he swiped it by a Pay Pass reader, his Visa account was automatically charged. Fitzgerald says New Yorkers will be able to use the phone’s “touch to travel” function on the subway next week, swiping it by special readers installed on the Lexington Line.
“Retailers are ready for this technology,” says Fitzgerald. “This is the first phone in the world with the NFC chip, but by 2008, it’ll be in all phones.” -- Audrey Gray