Pay by smart phone
A select group of Bank of America customers in New York will be able to use their iPhones and BlackBerrys like debit cards starting next month.
With a simple wave of their smart phones — embedded with a microchip — customers will be able to pay retailers equipped with mobile payment technology. Duane Reade and Walgreens drugstores, McDonald’s, Home Depot, 7-Eleven and even city taxis will be set up to accept smart phone payments for the pilot program, which will run until December.
“There’s always a little bit of resistance at first,” but eventually people adopt the faster, more efficient technology, said Ismat Mangla, a Money magazine writer, of the explosion of instant payment apps now available for smart phones.
Chase Bank and financial services company United Services Automobile Association already allow their customers to use “mobile capture” to snap a photo of a check they receive, automatically plunking the funds into an account. Starbucks, too, has a dedicated app for its store-value card, which allows customers to convert their phones into a prepaid phone card.
Smart phone payments may be as far as 15 years off, said Jim Bruene, editor of Online Banking Report. There’s a “chicken and egg” stalemate, he explained, because merchants are reluctant to invest in terminals until phones come equipped with the technology, and vice versa.
Security for mobile applications is also a work in progress.
“Most people don’t password-protect their phones, but if you’re using it as a credit card, you will want to password-protect the phone,” Bruene said.