Citigroup Developing Citi-Branded Phone That Can Make Contactless Payments

Do you wish you had a way to spend your money more easily, without all that opening-the-wallet or punching-the-pin-number manual labor? The trade publication Cards & Payments (registration required) says that it’s received a copy of a report filed with the FCC that indicates Citigroup is developing a Near Field Communication, or NFC, mobile phone that would allow its customers to make contactless payments at participating retailers.

Card & Payments writes, “The report, dated this month and drafted by a lab hired by U.S.-based mobile phone maker Mobicom Corp., clearly shows the Citi logo on the front of the tiny handset.” They say Citigroup tested a similar technology last year in partnership with AT&T, and that the report indicates the phone is for the U.S. market.
 
We can’t think of a single way this could be used to steal money from a Citibank account. Oh wait, yes we can.
 
“Citigroup Developing A Citi-Branded NFC Mobile Phone” [CardForum] (registration required)
(Photo elements: Getty and Mobicom)

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  1. azntg says:

    This technology is already being used at other parts of the world (Japan is one of them).

    Personally, I still prefer the old fashioned method of handing over cash or swiping and signing.

  2. TechnoDestructo says:

    Oh boy! The age of contactless pickpocketing has arrived!

  3. mepoochkey says:

    Great, now I need an Altoids box for my phone, too.

  4. SamTheGeek says:

    In the Pentagon, many people have to coat-check their phones & PDA’s. If someone were to slip a reader under the counter, every phone that passed over it could be charged X dollars in a money transfer. Trust me, someone would still need to confirm the purchase on the phone.

  5. jamar0303 says:

    @TechnoDestructo: Depends how it’s done. If they follow Japan and use FeliCa the chip will be linked with the phone. That means that you can set the phone to prompt you for your phone’s passcode (up to 8 digits) when something tries to read from it or edit its internal data.

  6. Max2068 says:

    I was actually part of the NYC beta test for this last winter. The phone was set up so that the contactless payment transmitter had options built in so you could select your own privacy level.

    First, there was the always on, please steal my credit card info broadcast method, which was not the default selection

    Second, there was where the phone was passively looking for contactless payment readers, and when it found one it would ask if you wanted to send credit card info over to the reader. This was the default, and you were always presented with a yes or no option to select when you waved the phone at a reader.

    Third, and most secure was the password protected option. Whenever a reader would ask for info, you had to enter a password in order for the CC number to be broadcast out to a reader.

    As for those who were concerned about someone scanning card info while your phone was checked somewhere, if the phone was off, the RFID transmitter was off. It was an active transmitter, not a passive one like the keychains or cards. No power, no card info. It also had to be within something like 2 inches of the reader to work. No long distance snooping.

    All in all, it was a neat toy to play with, but not something I would pay extra for, though it was neat seeing the looks I got from cashiers, and one who actually hooted and hollered about how I could pay with my phone. Neat stuff if you ask me.

  7. Jeff_McAwes0me says:

    That is the greatest photoshop I have ever seen.

  8. mikecolione says:

    This is taken from Phonescoop.com…

    “The FCC recently revealed information about a phone manufactured by Mobicom, but is branded by Citi. The Plus II is a small dual-band 850/1900 GSM bar-style phone that has no numeric keypad. It uses the navigation buttons to move around the menus, enter text, and interact with the phone. It has applications such as an MP3 player, and the built-in accelerometer lets you scroll through menus by tilting the phone around. The NFC technology on board will allow users to make mobile payments when paired with a mobile banking account or credit card. Citi has not announced this phone, nor have any carriers said they will carry it.”

  9. FLConsumer says:

    Awesome. So now I can get mugged on the street or some hax0rz types set up a small RF antenna and get carte blanche access to my credit cards.

    DO NOT WANT.

  10. jamar0303 says:

    @FLConsumer: You missed the part where you get to set a passcode.

  11. TechnoDestructo says:

    @jamar0303: And good luck figuring out who it is trying to take your money on a crowded subway. They’ll just keep fishing.

  12. jamar0303 says:

    @TechnoDestructo: Well, i suppose if you’re interested in that. Me, I just want to be sure that my money isn’t being taken from me remotely; I honestly don’t care who’s trying to do it, I just don’t want it to happen.

  13. Ragman says:

    Agreed on all the theft worries, but I have another.

    You get the phone FROM Citigroup. Who wants to bet there’s going to be a EULA clause that states Citigroup and theirs gets to make marketing calls. I don’t mean the DNC list exception of having a business relationship, but making it a “requirement” that you ANSWER their call – “We were trying to make sure there was no fraudulent activity, but you didn’t answer, so we suspended your account until you called. Oh, by the way, would you like to enroll in our ID theft security plan for $$$ a month?”

  14. speer320 says:
  15. Saw this a li’l while ago on Engadget, they evey have a picture of it. (No registration required!) [www.engadget.com]