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Mobile Phone Payments to Soar by 2011

"Wave-and-pay" cards embedded in cell phones via near-field communications software will soon become consumers' payment method of choice

Mobile phones will be the payment method of choice for 50 million consumers worldwide by the next decade.

According to a report from Juniper research, near field communications (NFC) applications built into mobiles will be used to pay for everyday goods and services -- driving the global market up to $11.5bn by 2011.

Already in the UK, a number of plastic 'wave and pay' cards have been introduced this year and a mobile banking service from Monilink will be pushed in 2008. But Juniper senior analyst Alan Goode believes the majority of those 50 million mobile payment users will be in Japan, South Korea and the US, where NFC payments are already much better established.

Goode said: "In the UK, we see signs that NFC will be widely available. Looking at things like transport hubs, the infrastructure is in place."

He told the main reason for consumers to adopt mobile phone payments -- rather than a plastic card -- is that applications can be combined, making phone payments more compelling. There will be an opportunity for an account balance to be shown before the payment is made, making sure the spender does not go overdrawn, and for vouchers and incentives to be redeemed alongside the purchase, for example.

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