Motorola Hopes New M-wallet Technology Wins in China

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Motorola has developed a new technology to turn mobile phones into payment devices and plans to make Taiwan a testing ground for the technology before moving on to China.

The Schaumburg, Illinois, company created the I-SIM NFC (near field communication) Lite card, a small card nearly the size of a common mobile phone SIM (Subscriber Identity Module) card but much thinner. The card contains chips that can store and transmit information including credit card, debit card, subway card, frequent flyer and other membership card information to transform a mobile phone into a payment device and more. Hold a handset armed with I-SIM NFC Lite up to a card reader to make a payment wirelessly the same way credit cards with similar technology work. Such technology can save time in check out lines because people can make quick payments without swiping a credit card and signing a bill, and can potentially take the place of a wallet.

One key to the new Motorola card is its size. It's made as a sticker to be attached to a mobile phone SIM card and fit inside the SIM card slot of a mobile phone. There's no need for operators to make customers pick up new a new SIM card. In fact, the SIM card attachment is designed to work with standard card readers as well, making them potentially useful in stores with card readers and cities that use card readers on buses, subways, trains or other systems.

"There's no need to change the SIM card, no need to change the mobile phone and no need to change the reader," said T.K. Ng, general manager in the home and networks mobility division of Motorola in China. The executive was in Taipei for the Mobile Wallets World 2009 conference.

The company is already talking to operators in China and Taiwan about using the cards and Ng said he hopes Taiwan can be a testing ground for the technology. People on the island are used to using a variety of cards, including credit cards and metro cards, to make payments. A number of stores, including 7-Eleven, carry card readers as well, for wireless payments.

One hurdle to the M-wallet idea globally has been government regulatory issues, said Neon Chen, director of M-Commerce at Motorola China. The cards are aimed at mobile phones, making them a telecommunications issue, as well as a financial issue, so countries interested in the technology are taking a keen look before they leap, he said.

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