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Citi and MasterCard Team Up with Nokia and Cingular on Cell Phone Payment Trial

by Peter Andrew
Citi and MasterCard Team Up with Nokia and Cingular on Cell Phone Payment Trial

The evolution of cell phones as payment vehicles may be taking another step forward with a trial slated to begin soon in New York City. Local residents who currently hold a Citi credit card equipped with MasterCard’s PayPass contactless technology and who also are Cingular wireless customers are eligible to receive a Nokia cell phone that uses Near Field Communication (NFC) technology to transmit credit card information to PayPass card readers. During the three to six-month trial, chosen participants can pass the phones in front of PayPass readers to make payments without ever pulling out their credit cards.

MasterCard has set up a Web site about the trial at https://www.mastercard.com/us/paypass/mobile/. An animation at the site gives an example of the technology in use. A man talking on his cell phone in a convenient store carries his purchase to the checkout. He briefly stops talking, waves his phone in front of the reader, then resumes talking on the phone while walking out.

The site also offers a form for eligible particpants to request inclusion in the New York City trial. Deadline is December 20.

The stated goal of the trial is to see whether paying by phone speeds transactions and increases customer convenience. An unstated goal may also be to assess the technology’s functionality as well as its safety. As a nod to people’s potential safety concerns, participants will be permitted to enable the PayPass functionality only at the point of sale and to disable it otherwise.

NXP Semiconductors, formerly Philips Semiconductors, developed the NFC technology and chips used in the trial’s mobile phones.

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