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Pay as You Go

Paying for the morning commute will soon be accomplished by the wave of a smartphone. State and local governments are joining Internet, credit card, and wireless companies to let consumers pay for everything from groceries to bus fare with mobile phones. Current mobile payment techniques are simply secure systems for sending credit-card data over a smartphone. A newer technology that's driving change is near field communication, or NFC, which lets shoppers pay for goods by passing their smartphones over electronic sensors.

In 2010, fewer than 6 million phones were NFC-equipped, according to ABI Research. By 2013, as more handset makers incorporate the technology into new devices, that number is expected to reach 172 million, according to the market research firm. Salt Lake City is one of the first municipalities to adapt to the coming explosion in mobile payments. The Utah Transit Authority installed NFC sensors on its buses, trains, and light rail in 2009. Now, thanks to a partnership with Isis, a wireless industry joint venture, Salt Lake City commuters will pay fares with a pass of their mobile devices. Here are more examples of local and state governments setting up mobile payment systems.
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