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Thursday, February 09, 2006

Mobile as wallet.... how very 1999

Motorola seems to be shrugging off its new-found image as king of up-to-the minute mobile coolness and going retro with a very old-skool press release about the idea of using your mobile phone as a replacement wallet.

"Motorola Helps Subscribers Leave Their Wallets at Home". Yeah, ditch those credit cards. And those paper receipts. And all those plastic gym membership cards with magstripes. And those business cards and coins.

Haven't we been here before? Micropayments, use the SIM instead of a credit card, blah blah blah? Only this time with an RFID-style NFC (Near Field Communications) chip.

Now, let's see, what were the problems the last 17 times this was tried?

OK... trust, security, difficulty of changing consumer behaviour, upgrading point-of-sale equipment, educating retailers, huge system integration costs & complexity, vagaries of international usage, legal status of operators as "banks" or lender, credit risk, single point of failure, greedy business models, no "credit card portability" when you switch carriers, stolen phones, low battery, RFID privacy concerns... hmm, maybe I missed something?

Oh yeah. I remember. Unlike a real wallet, I've yet to find a mobile phone equipped with a pocket to hold a condom.

1 comment:

Daniel Taylor said...


You can say that again...and you nailed the year, too!

My mom called me up to ask me about this, and I started into a story about how HP was featuring this stuff at Telecom '99. I was shown - at least a dozen times - a video clip of somebody buying a soda with a cell phone.