Thursday, August 14, 2003

Mobile phone alternatives in Asia...

In Europe and the Netherlands, quite some payment options exist in which the phone can be used. But seldom in combination with the credit-card back-office infrastructure. Ron Onrust tipped me on an article in Wall Street Journal ('Charge It,' Says Your Cellphone) in which two Asian examples are discussed.

In Japan Nippon Shinpan has linked up with NTT DoCoMo Inc., Japan's mammoth mobile-network provider, to test a system in which an infrared beam with credit card information is sent from the phone to a special infrared reader attached to a cash register.

In Singapore, a MasterCard project uses text messaging and phone banking. A consumer, while waiting in line to pay, calls the phone-banking service of one of the participating banks and requests an approval number. Seconds later, he receives an approval code -- valid for just 10 minutes -- that he shows to the cashier. The cashier enters the code into the usual payments terminal to complete the transaction.