Bluetooth turns phones into wallets

Bluetooth could be used for on-the-spot wireless payment systems, turning a mobile phone into an electronic wallet, according to...

Bluetooth could be used for on-the-spot wireless payment systems, turning a mobile phone into an electronic wallet, according to Registry Magic, a Florida-based supplier of wireless equipment, writes Antony Adshead

The company hopes to take advantage of the fact that most new mobile phones will have Bluetooth capability in the coming year by enabling retailers to give customers the opportunity to conduct transactions electronically through wireless point-of-sale hardware.

Registry Magic said users will be able to credit their mobile phone from a bank account and use these funds to conduct transactions securely. This would enable them to pay for goods without having to go through a physical payment process.

There are obvious time-saving benefits, particularly if the system could be combined with the "shop and go" self-service scanning systems being adopted in many supermarkets.

Robin Gear, an analyst at Ovum, believes security to be the major obstacle to this type of mobile commerce. "People are used to the physical process of buying things, such as signing or paying with cash. With a wireless system people will be wary of making a payment without being able to see what has been debited and when. This could perhaps be done by an instant SMS message," he said.

Security has been a serious issue for proponents of mobile commerce and will be more crucial with this system because it is often easier for a thief to steal a mobile phone than a wallet.

The security measures that Registry Magic envisions will comprise two lines of defence.

The first would require the user to enter a simple Pin code prior to making a transaction. The second could be a biometric identification method, such as a voice print, or the user could have his or her picture appear on the phone's screen.

Bluetooth operates in the 2.4GHz frequency band which allows connections to be established at a bandwidth of up to 720kbps at up to 10m.

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