The idea of using our smartphone to pay for products, although already widely implemented in some countries, is just starting to gain traction in the U.S. with the launch of Google Wallet. It'll be a while before any mobile wallet solution takes off as most depend on your cell phone being equipped with NFC technology. But Spring Card Systems and DeviceFidelity have come up with a practical way around that stumbling block.
Forming a new joint venture dubbed "moneto", the two companies announced today the launch of a couple of products that will add NFC features to iPhones and a range of Android smartphones or tablets.
The moneto microSD card contains an NFC radio and antenna encrypted together to enable mobile payments on Android devices that support microSD card expansion. A sticker applied to the battery underneath the phone's rear cover aids in transmitting the NFC signal. Meanwhile, for iPhones, moneto has created a unique case with an embedded NFC chip to deliver the same pay-by-phone service.
Moneto products are designed to work with MasterCard's PayPass technology, which is the same service that Google Wallet uses at point-of-sale terminals. The move should make NFC functionality and mobile payments available to consumers without the need to change devices, upgrade plans or sign new contracts.
“As this breakthrough mobile wallet launches in the US, it not only makes mobile payments available to iPhone users for the first time but it also opens the door for consumers to adopt NFC while pushing mobile commerce forward,” said Deepak Jain, DeviceFidelity President and CEO. “We are excited to partner with MasterCard and SpringCard to break the barriers for a rapid effective rollout.”
For those concerned about security, moneto says users can prevent unauthorized access to their account using a PIN that is safely stored in a secure chip inside the microSD. Additionally, the moneto account is backed by MasterCard’s Zero Liability, which protects consumers against unauthorized purchases.
Moneto's iPhone case is being rolled out now at moneto.me for $79.95, which includes $10.00 of pre-loaded funds, and all models from the iPhone 3 up to the most recent 4S are supported. The microSD card is set to land in the next few weeks, pegged at $30, with a list of supported Android models to be announced later.