A simple wave of an iPhone or a Droid might replace the old-fashioned swipe and sign ritual of credit cards, reports Bloomberg/BusinessWeek. AT&T, Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile have reportedly partnered with Discover Financial Services – the fourth-biggest payment network after MasterCard, Visa and American Express – to transform smartphones into mobile payment systems.
Some early applications merging mobile phones with credit payments already exist, including a device that turns an iPhone into a credit card reader.
BusinessWeek was not able to elaborate on the technical details of the new system, which will apparently be tested in Atlanta and three other cities. The report did say that many major retailers would welcome it, since the companies resent the major payment networks’ transaction fees.
Visa and MasterCard controlled 79 percent of the $3.1 trillion in U.S. consumer credit and debit spending last year, but the widespread adoption of cellphones may end up undermining that.
Other nations are far ahead of the U.S. in terms of mobile banking and payment, and Mastercard has actually helped implement such systems in Japan, Turkey and the U.S., according to BusinessWeek.
Of course, the new technology does leave one unanswered question – if your cellphone becomes your credit card, how do you pay your phone bill?