by Michael Ho
Wed, Oct 3rd 2007 1:35am
The promises of contactless payments consistently seem to fall a bit short. The hardware costs for merchants sound hard to justify, and the benefits to the consumer are usually minimal -- since credit cards aren't exactly a painful process to begin with. However, wireless technologies are cool, so NTT DoCoMo has demonstrated a prototype phone that uses human conductivity to transmit data for services such as payment-by-touch -- so that you can keep the phone in your pocket and simply touch other devices to transmit your personal information. But if the irrational fears of cell phone radiation weren't enough for you, then imagine the possibilities of using skin conductivity. How will users fill up at the gas station? And consider how many more stories about high-tech pickpockets there will be... when thieves just have to touch you briefly in order to get your payment information. NTT DoCoMo admits that it'll be several years before this payment-by-touch system will be "ready, reliable and safe" for Japan -- but phone makers may also want to anticipate the FUD and weigh it against the existing payment methods before releasing a new plot device for Michael Crichton.
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