Corporate Infighting To Keep Americans From Paying With Their Cellphones For The Next Few Years

Don’t expect your cellphone to replace your credit card anytime soon. The New York Times reports that banks and telecoms still can’t agree on the basics needed to develop such a payment system, even though similar systems have been available in Japan for the past five years.

For such payments to work here, cellphone manufacturers, carriers, financial institutions and retailers must all play roles. There also must be some sort of intermediary that is trusted by both the financial institutions and the carriers to activate the virtual credit cards inside the phone.

One problem is that anyone using a credit card inside a cellphone is simultaneously a customer of the financial institution and of the carrier. “At the end of the day, the question is, ‘Who pays whom and how much?’” Mr. Romen says. “The carriers and the banks need to get their act together on payment.” He adds that the back-and-forth is a necessary step in the creation of a complex system.

The well-credentialed skeptic interviewed by the Times seems convinced that putting your credit information on a cellphone presents only a “small” risk. We’ve heard all the wireless security jazz before and then watched as hackers stole credit information with $8 worth of equipment.

Researchers and industry analysts think most consumers want to buy things with their cellphone. Tell us commenters, are they right? Are you eager to marry your credit card to your cellphone?

Cellphones as Credit Cards? Americans Must Wait [The New York Times]
(Photo: Ross_Angus)

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.