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FTC Evaluates Mobile Payment Tools

Will mobile payments become common, and what will the impact of that technology be?

Those are but a couple of the burning questions the Federal Trade Commission hopes to glean answers to at a workshop the agency said it will hold in April where consumers, industry experts and technologists will convene to discuss a wide range of mobile payment issues.

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The FTC workshop is looking to address a number of issues including:

• What different technologies are used to make mobile payments and how are the technologies funded (such as credit card, debit card, phone bill, prepaid card, gift card, etc.)?

• Which technologies are being used currently in the United States, and which are likely to be used in the future?

• What are the risks of financial losses related to mobile payments as compared to other forms of payment? What recourse do consumers have if they receive fraudulent, unauthorized, and inaccurate charges? Do consumers understand these risks? Do consumers receive disclosures about these risks and any legal protections they might have?

• When a consumer uses a mobile payment service, what information is collected, by whom, and for what purpose? Are these data collection practices disclosed to consumers? Is the data protected?

• How have mobile payment technologies been implemented in other countries, and with what success? What, if any, consumer protection issues have they faced, and how have they dealt with them?

• What steps should government and industry members take to protect consumers who use mobile payment services?

The FTC says it is looking to hear from as many people as possible before the April 26 workshop to be held in Washington, D.C. Electronic comments can be made here.

The mobile payment market is still pretty small but many say it will begin to gain more attention in 2012.

From an IDG News Service story: Operator partnerships and small-scale mobile payment trials will start to bear fruit in 2012 and some analysts think Apple will make a play for our wallets. But mass-market acceptance will still elude the sector, according to analysts. "There has been progress, but not as much as people had hoped for. We now also have a number of handsets with NFC, albeit a small number, and not as many as people were saying there would be at the start of the year," said John Devlin, group director at market research company ABI Research. Even if the industry isn't as far along as expected, it is moving forward. For example, 2011 saw the U.S. launch of Google Wallet, which by the end of 2012 will prove to be a hit among consumers, according to ABI.

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