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Marketing

Pay With a Cell Phone?

New technology could help cell phone payments thrive.

Cell phones make sense as vehicles for short-range wireless, cashless payments. They're almost as ubiquitous as wallets and purses and are usually kept right at hand. Near Field Communication is a developing technology that could help make contactless cell phone payments more widespread. Testing is already underway, and industry association NFC Forum took the key step of releasing the technology architecture and some initial specifications in June.

NFC also has a variety of potential uses for data transfer, syncing devices and even accessing online digital content. One possibility involves embedding NFC tags in billboards or ads so passersby can use their NFC-capable phones to instantly act on an offer or get more information.

An ABI Research study forecasts that higher-volume NFC deployments will be common by 2007, particularly in wireless handsets. Look for other types of electronic devices like printers and cameras to also incorporate NFC. It's a technology to keep an eye on. If it catches on, entrepreneurs may want to look into incorporating it into their businesses as a way of accepting payments.

This story appears in the October 2006 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

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