|By Jim Bruene on August 20, 2008 4:42 PM | Comments (6)|
Even though I have credit cards from Citibank, Wells Fargo, U.S. Bank, American Express and Chase, I have never been offered the opportunity to add contactless payment capability to my card, so I still have no firsthand experience of that particular wave of the future.
And it hasn't been too high on my list of things to try, since it still requires carrying a piece of plastic or an additional device such as keychain fob (inset). I don't see much benefit to tapping a piece of plastic compared to swiping it.
However, I do look forward to NFC-enabled mobile phones. But given the hurdles for adoption among carriers, payment processors, and issuing banks, I wasn't expecting that much before the next summer Olympics.
But now an interim workaround is being tested around the world: the contactless payment sticker. It's a quarter-sized sticker you plop on the back of your mobile phone making it instantly payment-enabled.
That allows consumers to leave their wallets at home, a nice benefit for outdoor enthusiasts, club goers, or anyone who doesn't want to worry about losing their wallet while on the go. Of course, we'll need a few million more contactless-enabled merchants before the wallet-free world is realistic for most, but widespread use of stickers could move that along (see note 1).
Who has it?
There are several rollouts under way around the world. For example:
- Turkish banking giant GarantiBank recently won an industry-innovation award for its RFID sticker (press release). The sticker is produced by On Track Innovations. The bank began a pilot a year ago with several thousand Turkish customers.
- Silicon Valley-based Blaze Mobile says it will be delivering a Blaze Debit MasterCard with PayPass payment sticker to subscribers to its $4.99/mo Blaze Wallet this month.
- Though not yet connected to a major credit card, Malvern, PA-based USA Technologies launched its Pay Dot contactless sticker this spring (press release).
1. There are about 110,000 PayPass merchants worldwide, less than 1% of the 25 million locations that accept regular MasterCard cards.
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