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No Card, No Cash, No Problem – The e-wallet finally becomes a reality

Posted by Felix Chuang on 12/20/2011
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Previous posts on this blog have discussed the convenience and proliferation of machine-to-machine (M2M) technology to power wireless payment processing applications. These applications enable credit card payments at remote locations such as doorsteps and parking meters, with M2M handling the wireless backhaul required for our credit/debit card-based society to function.

As we become more "cashless" in our purchasing process, the emergence of a once futuristic application is beginning to become a reality—the e-wallet. Yes, this means that we are getting one step closer to the one-device nirvana that the world of cellular communications has promoted for years. Using your cell phone to buy a bag of chips or to pay for your haircut sounds great, but how does it all work? And what role does M2M play in making it a reality?

The truth is that the e-wallet, or virtual wallet, will rely on multiple communication mediums to operate effectively. A number of these cell phone-based electronic transactions will occur via near-field communications (NFC) technology, where your cellular phone communicates with some type of point-of-sale device. In this scenario, your phone, in effect, acts as credit or debit card. It's similar to Mobil's Speedpass™, with two devices communicating with one another. There's no card swipe required, just a tap and pay.

Where M2M comes in is when the transaction collected by the NFC system is transmitted back to the retailer or financial services institution via cellular network. It's probably fair to say that as point-of-sale devices begin to proliferate across retail locations, M2M will play a significantly increasing role in powering this industry. In addition, remote payments via credit cards at locations such as vending machines will continue to drive wireless transactions across the globe.

While e-wallet payments are beginning to become more commonplace, a number of issues still need to be ironed out. For instance, it's not entirely clear if e-wallet transactions will occur over the customer's own cellular data plan (which limits its reach and adds security questions) or is simply a "stored value" on the phone itself. All of these areas need to be worked through to ensure a viable and reliable e-wallet system that can improve purchasing efficiencies at any location.

With our global M2M network and full suite of cellular and satellite services, KORE is well positioned to participate in the e-wallet revolution. We may be witnessing the next wave of mobile technology breakthroughs, and M2M is once again at the center of it all, so come right on in.

By Felix Chuang, Senior Product Manager

Felix Chuang is Senior Product Manager at KORE Telematics, an industry leader in the Machine-to-Machine (M2M) wireless market. He has more than fifteen years of experience in the Internet and wireless industries in a broad range of roles such as product management, business development, and operations. He is currently focused on the KORE Global Connect product line, which provides a single SIM for M2M network service in 180+ countries and 230+ carriers.

He can be found on twitter at: @felixc and KORE Telematics can be found at: @koretelematics