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Friday, November 2, 2007

RBC and Visa testing cell phones as electronic wallets

The RBC and Visa announced yesterday that they are launching a joint Ontario-based pilot project that would allow consumers to simply swipe their phone in front of a scanner to make purchases. The project will begin with laboratory testing followed by a trial for RBC employees and another, later next year, with consumers. Bank spokeswoman Anne Koski is quoted in a CBC web posting as saying "You pull out your phone at the checkout, wave it in front of the reader, and the payment is made for you, there is no pin, and typically you don't even get a receipt — it's that easy,". The program will only allow purchases of up to $25 and you will be required to contact the company if your phone is misplaced or stolen, similar to how you deal with your credit card in such circumstances. As big of a geek as I am, I just don't think this is a great idea. Convenient, yes, but I have an issue with the fact that no signature or PIN is required... I have the same issue with the new tap and go credit cards and key chains. There just seems to be a little greater measure of protection that is in place when I am required to sign or authenticate with my PIN. I guess, as long as the credit card company / bank is willing to take the risk with any number of $25 purchases that might take place between the time that I lose my phone and I report it missing, I shouldn't care. However, as consumers we all pay for these charges in the exorbitant rates that we are charged by the banks and their credit card companies.