There's been a lot of talk recently about mobile payment, from casual money transfers over PayPal mobile apps to using a mobile phone to physically kick-start a payment, as we observed during our field test with the Bling Nation tag.
These examples both fall under the category of mobile payments, but their technology differs as much as their goal.
Four and a half categories
Depending on how you slice it, there are four or five possible definitions of "mobile payment," with up to two off-shoots. For simplicity's sake, we'll outline the major four and will mention the others as off-shoots, though this definition certainly isn't final.
Mobile Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Peer-to-peer (P2P) payments, as with other peer-to-peer services like music-sharing, are informal transactions made between two people. Paying the babysitter and reimbursing a friend for your share in a lunch tab fall into this category. PayPal and similar services might facilitate this type of transaction (though PayPal, of course, can also be used for more-formal payments, such as eBay and other online purchases.)
International transfers might also fall under this category, such as remittances sent overseas from an earner in one country to family in another. M-Via is one company that specializes in using text messages to authorize funds sent to Mexico.
Mobile Point of Sale (POS) Unlike mobile P2P technology, which may use text or a software application to transfer funds, mobile point-of-sale (POS) is all about hardware. The cell phone becomes a wallet or payment token, the physical object that carries a radio frequency ID (RFID) chip or near field communication (NFC) technology. This could be an external sticker, or perhaps be integrated as a hardware component on the device. It's this chip that communicates with the payment terminal to green-light transactions.
Because transactions are triggered wirelessly without requiring physical contact between the sticker or card and the payment terminal, this type of solution is also known as "contactless" payment.… Read more