My friend recently shared this article with me from Fast Company about how Credit Cards Will Go Electronic, Then Dissappear into iPhone 5. This should read: “Credit Cards have been electric, and have already disappeared into mobile phones.” The idea is quite simple and fantastic. With traditional credit cards you have to swipe so that the machine can read the magnetic strip. An evolution of that is a card where all you have to do is wave the card for the machine to read your card. We take that one more step further and implement that technology into your phone, so all you have to do is swipe your phone over the machine to pay for items.
What blows my mind is how behind the US is when it comes to technology. Living in the US, it’s easy to feel as though we’re far ahead in … everything. As far as I understand, however, contactless payment systems are still not widely adopted. What you probably didn’t know is that these contactless payment cards have been popularly used in the Japanese metro system since 2001. They are called the Suica card and they use the same RFID technology described in the Fast Company article for contactless payment. The convenience and efficiency of not having to take a card out of your wallet to use it is priceless, and can’t be described fairly with words.
NTT Docomo has taken this technology and started providing phones with “mobile wallets” since 2004. People in Japan use their iMode cellphone to pay at department stores, car parking lots, local train stations, and movie theaters. All they have to do is wave their phone over the machine reader. If you think about it, this is extremely convenient, especially in a public transit community where people aren’t carded to buy alcohol. People don’t need to carry their wallet around at all.
Of course, as with all technology, being a first mover doesn’t necessarily make you the best. We all know Apple’s ability to take a piece of existing technology and make it accepted and noticed worldwide. This is good news for all of us, including the businesses who have already been providing this technology. Did you know that the introduction of the iPhone spurred Blackberry sales? Apple is a true leader.