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Mobile payment technology faces hurdles

A man uses the NFC payment Visa system

A man uses the NFC payment Visa system at the Mobile World Congress, the world's largest mobile phone trade show, in Barcelona, Spain. (Feb. 27, 2013) Photo Credit: AP

Mobile money may seem like a hot concept, but consumers aren't warming to it.

At the world's largest cellphone trade show, held in Barcelona, Spain, last week, the 70,000 attendees were encouraged to use their cellphones -- instead of their key cards -- to get past the turnstiles at the door. But very few people took the chance to do that. The process of setting up the phone to act as a key card proved too much of a hassle.

It's a poor omen for an industry that's eager to have the cellphone replace both tickets and credit cards. Companies are building antennas into phones that let the gadgets interact with "tap to pay" terminals and other devices equipped with short-range sensors, like subway turnstiles. But getting the technology to do something useful and convincing people to adopt it is a slow process.

To make a payment in a store with your cellphone, "you need a lot of things to align," said Reed Peterson, who heads the Near-Field Communications initiative for the GSM Association, a global trade group for the wireless industry. The phone must be equipped with NFC hardware and software; the store needs proper equipment and training. The phone company needs to support the transaction, and banks and payment processors need to be in on it.

The network of commercial agreements that supports these payments needs to expand, Peterson said.-- AP

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