Location-based services tend to be associated with navigation and social networking these days. But LBS has a practical side. Mobile coupons and cellphone payments come to mind. But despite the fact that many Japanese vendors have accepted payment from cellphones with embedded credit card info for years, it could be some time before it’s viable in North America.
The New York Times has an article highlighting some of the logistical problems faced in the United States that haven’t been a problem in Japan. As the article points out, NTT DoCoMo provided over half of the Japanese market with wireless service when cellphone payments were first rolled out and had significant leverage with the country’s financial institutions.
In the US, the situation is more complicated. There are more competing handset manufacturers, service providers, financial institutions and so on. And the issue becomes: how do the various competitors, direct and indirect, split the revenues generated?
Once all involved parties agree, cellphone credit card payments will eventually make it to the United States and probably Canada. Users won’t have to pay extra fees, says MasterCard Worldwide, and consumers have an added measure of convenience that is always nice when out shopping.
There will be the inevitable privacy concerns raised with such a technology, but it is something I’m definitely looking forward too.
(Image Credit: The Rocketeer)