Nokia and several mobile telecom carriers have all teamed-up for a global initiative that will transform mobile phones into wallets, a wireless telecoms interest group announced on Wednesday.
Through this novel plan, consumers will be able to use a phone as a wallet or as an access card simply by waving it over a wireless reader – and in some cases punching a PIN number into the phone – similar to how travelers in Tokyo and London access public transport.
Kai Oistamo, head of Nokia’s main cell phones unit, told Reuters, “The phone becomes a wallet, after that you can pay with it just like you pay with your bank cards.”
Large European and Asian carriers KPN, Maxis Communications Bhd, Mobilkom Austria, O2, Orange, SFR, SingTel, SKT, and Wind joined 14 cell phone operators which kicked off the project some months ago.
Nokia, along with two other leading cell phone makers Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics, will set in a wireless chip into its phones.
This project also has MasterCard – the world’s biggest payment card company, which is cheaper and much faster than other wireless payment experiments, like those using SMS text messages.
Trials with the new standard will begin in October. the Reuters report further said.
Rob Conway, CEO of the GSM Association, the global trade association for cell phone operators said, “After several fragmented initiatives, the mobile phone industry is now uniting around a single approach to enabling the mobile phone to be used, instead of cash or plastic credit card, at point of sale.”
China Mobile, Vodafone, Cingular – owned by AT&T Inc and BellSouth Corp, and Telefonica already support the common wireless chip format on the cell phones they distribute for their networks.
Jointly with chip makers NXP and Sony, which kicked off the contactless chip called Near Field Communication (NFC), companies plan a global standard for electronic wallets in cell phones.
In Japan, mobile phones are already widely used as electronic wallets, where over 12.6 million consumers already have their credit cards embedded in a chip in cell phones.
Mifare, developed by NXP, formerly known as Philips Semiconductors and Felica built by Sony are two of the most widely used formats used for access cards for buildings and public transport as well as cell phones which double as electronic wallets.
In a statement, Mifare and Felica said, “By combining this secure chip with an NFC chip, a universal contactless IC (integrated circuit) platform can be created for mobile phones.”