A number of companies are testing technologies that let customers make payments with mobile phones. Shipments of devices embedded with them are projected to increase by more than 50 percent in 2011, according to market research firm ISuppli. Read on to see which companies are leading the way.
About 5,000 Coca-Cola (KO) vending machines in Belgium and Luxembourg now let customers pay for drinks with mobile phones. Coca-Cola's machines use PingPing, a mobile micropayment system from Brussels-based Mobile-For.
7-Eleven (3382:JP) has participated in various tests of mobile-payment technology with MasterCard (MA), Nokia (NOK), and others. On Nov. 16, the company said it would help customers who want to use their mobile phones for payments—yet lack credit or debit cards—by partnering with PayNearMe, a cash-payment network.
AT&T Mobility (T), T-Mobile USA (DTEGY), and Verizon Wireless said on Nov. 16 that they would join forces to build Isis, a national mobile-commerce network that will let customers make mobile payments. The companies said they will introduce the service in certain markets within 18 months.
Jack in the Box
The hamburger chain conducted a test of mobile payments in 2008 that let customers download Jack Ca$h gift cards to their phones and use the mobile devices to pay for meals.
In 2009, MasterCard (MA) started a large mobile-payment test in Bangalore, India. The company worked with Citibank (C), Nokia (NOK), and Vodafone (VOD:LN). In addition to making payments, customers were able to receive mobile coupons on their handsets directly from retailers, department stores, and food courts.
In Japan, McDonald's (MCD) and NTT DoCoMo (9437:JP) teamed up in 2007 to let customers use DoCoMo's mobile-wallet services to pay for purchases at the fast food restaurant by waving their phones over a reader at the counter.
On Oct. 25, Starbucks (SBUX) said it would expand its ongoing mobile-payment test to almost 300 company-operated stores in New York City and Nassau and Suffolk counties on Long Island, N.Y. The test began in 2009 at 16 stores in Seattle and Northern California and at more than 1,000 Starbucks in Target (TGT) stores. Customers download the Starbucks Card Mobile App to BlackBerrys, iPhones, or iPod touch devices.
On Sept. 21, Visa (V) said commuters in New York could use mobile phones to pay for bus, subway, and train fares as part of a test program that uses technology from DeviceFidelity, which transforms many smartphones with a microSD slot into Visa payment devices.
During the first half of this year, Wells Fargo will test mobile payments with 200 employees. With DeviceFidelity's technology, employees can use their existing BlackBerrys or iPhones to make payments at a number of fast food restaurants and retailers.