Forget coins and notes – there is a new way to pay…….
It has long been known that you can pay for things – like the London underground – with swipe cards (Oyster Cards) and that you can use your cell phone to pay for car parks if you are caught short in the city – but using your cell phone as a swipe card to pay for a McDonalds!
It really is something new – and expanding.
In the same way that Augmented Reality (AR) was pitched to offer you all sorts of information regarding where you are and what you are looking at – this new technology – known as NFC (near-field communication) is paving a new path in the wireless technology field.
What Is NFC (Near Field Communication) ?
Well, to sum it up you could say that NFC is a way for your cell to be told about everything that is close to you – basically your cell becomes one of your senses.
Technology inside your phone can identify who you are – and so ‘charge’ you directly for services like transport and fast food – or entry to museums etc.
But also, this technology inside other things can tell you what they want you to hear. By this I mean that a poster advertising a vacation could register that your cell just ‘walked’ past their poster and send you text with a discount code if you wanted to book through them – or a retail outlet could text you as you pass their store telling you of a great sale or promotion that you might have otherwise missed.
They could also be used by businesses as an identity card – or ‘clocking in’ device for their workers. Rather than cards, machines and guards, they might just make you enter the building through a certain door and the receivers identify you and show you as inside.
Convenient Or Conniving?
I can see both sides of this technology. Firstly, the convenience of not having to worry about having enough money on you all the time is great, and so is the potential for identifying you at work rather than having to complete forms or log in and out.
However, the intrusion of promotions, adverts and other such information would be most annoying. Imagine a stroll around town on your lunch break – it’s bad enough seeing all the adverts and posters all over the place, let alone having them all send messages to your cell! It would almost make you want to leave your cell in the office rendering your ‘identity wherabouts’ gadget useless for that purpose.
Regardless of what you think about it, it has already been implemented in many stores and transport systems across the globe, with many large technology and cell phone companies already pledging to install ‘this and that’ by ‘so and so’.
Japanese commuters have been using a similar technology (but a more basic version) for over 5 years for trains, taxis and fast food!
However, so far it only works by very close contact, but technology could allow these electrical messages to travel further – like the store promotion example.
NFC: The Future
It looks like you won’t have to buy a new cell either as many models will be able to be upgraded – and it may well be available in cheaper models as it becomes more popular.
However, as with all identity cards, credit cards and of course cash – we can leave them at work, lose them or have them stolen. So is making a cell phone even more valuable a good idea?
Cell swipe technology only works with a debit system – so the funds have to be prepaid or instantly charged. Needless to say they could be used as ‘cash’ when stolen at a nearby store or restaurant without the cashier being any the wiser.
And, if these chips were to contain personal information as well, then they may well become a victim of their own success. It would be as disasterous as losing your laptop.
People may even start to carry 2 cells: 1 for paying and one for all other uses – so if it was stolen or lost, they wouldn’t loose all their data and contacts too!
Maybe they will invent a ‘cell buddy’ that cleared all data off the phone if it was taken further than 5 meters from the cell (as would only happen if the owner no longer had their cell with them). Or a way to de-activate the chip in some way when it was next used after being stolen or lost.
Anyway – I’m sure these little niggles will be smoothed out……..