Monday, 10 January 2011

DeviceFidelity to Release New Add-On for Mobile Phones

U.S-based technology company DeviceFidelity will announce a new add-on for mobile phones, which will be necessary to ensure a consistent experience for consumers tapping certain handsets to pay, including the popular Samsung Galaxy S, said NFC Times.

The add-on-a sticker containing an extra antenna or coil is needed to extend the range of the company's In2Pay microSD cards, which will carry a Visa payWave application. Without the add-on, the read range for a number of phones with point-of-sale terminals would be extremely small, in most cases.

Consumers would be asked to affix the sticker, which DeviceFidelity calls a Range Extender label, to the inside back cover of their cell phones, giving the device an increased range of 2 to 4 centimetres, and allowing consumers to tap the back of the phones every time to pay. Without the extra antenna, the read range might be only 2 millimetres or less, much small to meet Visa's requirements.

On December 2010, Visa announced it would certify the first 3 smartphones for use with the DeviceFidelity microSDs packing payWave, including one of the Galaxy S models, the Vibrant. But the announcement did not mention the need for an extra antenna sticker.

Buenos Aires under Cash Crunch

Buenos Aires has been hit by a notes and coins shortage, leaving cash machines empty and public transport services in chaos, according to local press reports.

Argentina's capital has been running low on cash since the end of December 2010, with some public bank ATMs unable to dispense notes, according to Buenos Aires Herald. Around 400 people have been forced to go to the government to get their wages.

Meanwhile, some banks had to stop giving customers change in coins, causing chaos on buses and trains. The shortage is being blamed on "technological problems" and reluctance on the part of Argentina's central bank to distribute large amounts of cash to local banks, says the paper.

Google Manufacturing Cream!

Google is building a mobile wallet nicknamed "Cream," which it plans to integrate with Android NFC phones that consumers could tap to pay in stores. Already U.S-based Citigroup has shown interest in the new mobile wallet.

According to news sources, MasterCard Worldwide and Visa Inc. have also been in talks with Google about possible participation in the search giant's plans to launch the wallet and enable a mobile-payment and advertising service on NFC smartphones. Among those phones to have Cream is Google's own Nexus S, said sources.

If the parties go ahead with the plans, an announcement of a launch could come early this year, with some sources predicting it could happen in a matter of weeks. Several Android-based NFC handsets are expected on the market in 2011, but at present, there is only Nexus S, launched last month, which still does not support payment.

1.000 UK Retailers Set to Accept Contactless Payments

Around 1,000 UK retailers are set to accept contactless smart card payments this year. E-money payment providers Paypoint has revealed that firms which currently subscribe to its PayPoint/Lloyds TSB Cardnet service will receive a new contactless payment terminal over the coming months.

According to Ivan Donn, director of retail services at PayPoint, "There are already around 12 million contactless cards in circulation in the UK but the problem people have is where to use them. Once cardholders become aware that a retailer accepts contactless payments, they will keep coming back".

Contactless smart cardholders who enter the selected stores will be able to purchase items worth a maximum of 15 pounds sterling with the technology. The transaction fee for participating will be 4pence lower than debit card charges, according to Paypoint.

China's Mobile Phone Users Top 850M in 2010

The number of mobile phone subscribers in China exceeded 850 million last year, as more Chinese people began to consider mobile phones everyday necessities, a report from the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology showed. The number is equivalent to 60% of the country's estimated population of 1.4 billion for 2010.

During the January-November period in 2010, 103 million users were newly subscribed to the country's mobile phone services. The figure is estimated to have surpassed 110 million as of December-end.

The report showed the number of fixed-line subscribers dropped 153.9 million to 298 million during the period. In the first 11 months of 2010, the Chinese telecom industry's revenue was estimated to be 819.03 billion Yuan ($123.56 billion), up 6.6% on-year.

EBay Sales on Mobile Phones Triple to $2Billion

The online auction site - EBay has tripled its revenue by $2Billion, owing to increased mobile shopping using iPhones. The website's apps were downloaded more than 30 million times in 8 languages and in more than 190 countries.

Since its initial release in 2008, more than 15 million people have downloaded eBay's iPhone app. eBay also has apps on Android devices, BlackBerrys and Windows Phone 7 phones.

EBay said the UK has been the fastest adopter of so-called "mcommerce", with more Britons shopping through the eBay app than anywhere else in Europe. In the UK, an item was purchased on average every 2 seconds through the eBay buyer app.

International sales made up more than half of eBay's mobile sales in 2010. Outside the US, the leading eBay mobile markets are Germany and the UK, which together generated almost one-third of eBay's mobile sales in 2010. The fastest growing international eBay mobile markets are Australia and the UK.

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