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With Christmas just around the corner chances are we're all going to be dashing around the shops trying our best to remember which album Dad's been dropping hints about wanting, the perfume grandma really likes and what latest video game the little brother wants. It can often be a daunting task and every minute counts when competing for the last particular item in stock. A lot of us will have a wallet or purse fit to burst with various credit and debit cards, fishing a different one out for each shop we visit. It'd be a whole lot quicker and easier if we could have one simple method of paying for our Christmas shopping without the hassle of multiple cards. Well with recent developments in RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) soon we may be able to make payments using our mobile phones. These RFID enabled chips can be embedded in mobile phones and can be read at the tills. It is done by a very short range wireless network called Near Field Communications, so a shopper can pay for purchases under £10 by simply holding their mobile phone near to the scanner and will be charged the amount to their bank account. Purchases over £10 need PIN number authorization for security reasons. The scheme is being developed by the GSM alliance, and has been through a trial period in October 2007. The idea of using RFID chips is currently employed by Barclaycard with their "One Pulse" card, which has been trialled in London by incorporating the Public Transport's "Oyster card" so that commuters are able to use their card to replace paper-based tickets much like the way Pay As You Go mobile phones are used. This sort of technology is used in Tokyo for a multitude of small exchanges; they already have RFID enabled mobile phones which can pay for things from food from a vending machine to a ticket on one of the bullet trains. There is some concern over the system, with over 2,000 people losing their mobile phones or having them stolen everyday (source: there is plenty of chance for our mobile phones to cause even more financial woes as someone else runs up a huge bill and drain your bank account too. Despite this Barclays claims that "this scheme is Quicker, Convenient and more secure than cash", Their partner in the scheme, Nokia has predicted that mass market acceptance could be as soon as 2010 or 2011. It is clear that a lot of mobile firms are confident of the scheme taking off as 10 more mobile operators have joined the original 14 including such names as LG, Samsung, Mastercard and Nokia. Rob Conway of the GSMA said, "After several fragmented initiatives, the mobile phone industry is now uniting around a single approach to enabling the mobile phone to be used, instead of cash or plastic credit card, at point of sale." In November Samsung announced that they had succeeded in miniaturizing the RFID readers to minute, chip-sized proportions. They believe that this would enable PDAs and mobile phones to interact with their environment, citing such applications as reading information from posters, clothing and museum exhibits.

Whilst society seems to be heading more towards a cashless system it is interesting that mobile phones are now being explored as recipients of this RFID technology since practically everyone now has at least one mobile phone, it seems as if it's not only a replacement for gadgets like digital cameras but now it's a replacement for the money we use to buy said gadgets!

Andy Adams is an IT worker and experienced writer

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Charge it to My Mobile Phone  

the Mobile Mass Money system think you're safe? I DARE you to tell me you didn't get chills watching this footage: