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Get the Message?

SMS technology could bring mobile commerce within your reach.

The hype surrounding m-commerce (mobile commerce) isn't at the fever pitch it was a couple of years ago, nor has it been abandoned. Even if you don't use it, you've heard of SMS. Extremely popular abroad, it's gaining popularity in the United States. Verizon Wireless and Netpace, a mobile marketing solutions company, are hoping to turn it into a new m-commerce tool. The term that's floating around is "premium text messaging."

Netpace's technology will allow customers to bill Internet transactions made on their cell phones to their Verizon accounts rather than their credit cards. Other carriers will be looking into and announcing their own m-commerce plans along these lines as the area slowly reheats. Market researcher Telecom Trends International estimates the global market for m-commerce will exceed $550 billion by 2008, quite a leap from the less than $7 billion last year.

For entrepreneurs on the go, it can mean a convenient way to make transactions. If this text-messaging version of m-commerce catches on, growing businesses may want to look at how they can accommodate their customers using the technology. Details about the time frame for introduction, cost and availability were sketchy at press time. But keep your eyes peeled for the latest announcements from Netpace, Verizon and other cell phone carriers.

This story appears in the October 2004 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »