Looking ahead to the technology of mobile wallets


Smartphones are revolutionizing transactions for Intuit's small business customers using GoPayment.

"They actually need to be able to process those payments away from where they used to," says Omar Green, director of strategic mobile initiatives for Intuit. "So, no longer behind the counter. They're out with their own customers and needing to accept those payments there."

This week, Intuit hosted a forum for more than 100 phone innovators to sort out the future of your electronic wallet. Mobile Forum is part of a series organized by Telecom Council Silicon Valley, whose chair is Derek Kerton, the principal analyst for the Kerton Group.

"You have Google proposing, 'This is how we'd like to do it.' But you have companies like the carriers in the United States, forming an association called ISIS, saying, 'No, no, don't work with Google, work with ISIS. This is the payment consortium that's going to bring this all together,'" said Kerton.

You have Twitter alumni saying, "Use our technology" called Square.

"Then you have people like PayPal working on their own method of payment," adds Kerton. "The question is, whose payment ecosystem is going to win?"

Zenius is one company working on an end-to-end solution, asking, "Why stop at mobile payments?"

"So that includes identity," says Zenius CEO John Wiese. "Things like driver's license, passports, coupons, loyalty cards, standard payments. Things like Visa, MasterCard -- all that convergence will happen on the mobile wallet."

Laurent Sanchez, VP at INSIDE Secure, points out, "Airports are testing the technology so you can use your phone instead of printing a receipt or having your physical ticket."

Sanchez's company has squeezed the technology not just onto a chip, but right onto the SIM card that identifies your phone. That means older phones can be retrofitted with NFC (Near Field Communication) -- the Ninja cousin of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.

NFC enables you simply to tap to make a payment, to unlock a door, or as Mohammad Khan, president of ViVOtech, says, "I can just tap my NFC phone onto a shelf tag and be able to get information on a camera as I'm looking at it."

"It will track the payment for you. You can connect it to social networks," says Kerton, "and tell your friends, 'Hey, I just bought coffee at this Starbucks. Would you like to join me?' So a lot of automatic things that can trickle off by connecting that payment mechanism to a device that has Internet connectivity in it."

What's in your wallet or phone? Or whatever it is now.

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