Digital Credit Card Tested

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Mobile payment and product search technology has been touted by vendors and futurists for years but is only now becoming a reality in the U.S.

Two recent announcements show movement on the technology. Cellular South in Jackson, Miss., joined USA Technologies in Malvern, Pa., this week to announce a two-city consumer trial of WirelessWallet, a service that will let consumers make purchases and payments from a cell phone.

The trial involves 75 customers who will test the concept at 50 retail locations in Memphis and Jackson, according to a statement from the Cellular South. They will use handsets from Kyocera Wireless Corp. that will act as a digital credit card. A customer will be able to tap a phone against a Near Field Communication-enabled wireless reader.

Following completion of the trial this August, a rollout is scheduled for early 2008, the companies said.

Also, Sprint Nextel and New York-based GPShopper LLC Thursday announced Slifter, a product search application that relies on GPS technology to help consumers find products. It does not provide mobile payment capabilities like WirelessWallet does, however.

With Slifter, users can enter a keyword, product name, model number or UPC number to find a product, and they can then view its availability, price and promotional information, the companies said in a statement. The GPS feature will help users locate the nearest stores. The search covers 85 million products at 30,000 retailers.

Slifter costs $1.99 per month; the service can be immediately downloaded on the Sprint network. Data charges also apply.

Slifter is similar to a second-generation application announced in Japan on Monday for finding information on 700,000 stores and points of interest using several mobile phone devices over the KDDI network there. The Japanese-based service, called Mapion Pointing Application, from GeoVector Corp. in San Francisco, allows a user to opt in to receive advertisements over the phones.

The first generation of Mapion was launched in January 2006 in Japan. The application allows a user to point and click a mobile phone at a restaurant, store or historical site to receive content, such as a restaurant's menu. GeoVector uses pointing-based technology and a spatial search engine to find what is being clicked on. The newest version will allow advertisers to send coupons and other promotions related to what the user has clicked on.

This story, "Digital Credit Card Tested" was originally published by Computerworld.

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