John D Radcliff, Specializing in Interactive Technology & Education!

A Wallet-Free Future?

        "Code will be a central tool in this analysis.  It will present the greatest threat to both liberal and libertarian ideals, as well as their greatest promise.  We can build, or architect, or code cyberspace to allow those values to disappear.  Code is never found; it is only ever made, and only ever made by us.  How such programming regulates human interactions…depends on the choices made (Code 2.o, Lawrence Lessig, p. 4)."  If we look at the above quote we can see how this applies to the digital code in mobile phones for Contactless Payment systems and how our desire for convenience controls the code that we make to achieve this.

        How has the code affected the way we perform transactions?  Instead of having to interact with a person with our payment, we can wave our phone across a terminal and pay for services or items. For example, Visa has a payWave wireless payment system trial setup to pay for Subways and Taxis in New York.  You need an Iphone or Android phone, an SD Micro card for the Android phone and a case addon for the Iphone.  This allows people to walk by the subway terminal and scan their phone to pay the subway fare.  The issue with this is that it takes the same amount of time to pull out a credit card and swipe it as it does to access the app on the phone and scan it. 

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        People are wanting  technology to provide convenience and have security handled at the same time.  In Japan, people can walk by a coke machine and scan their cell phones across a wireless reader which instantly allows them to purchase their item.  The issues of security are not that big of a concern since Japan has very sophisticated security measures on their mobile phones.  This is why the contactless payment system has been such a big success in Japan.  Click here to find out more about Japan's mobile phone security.  This kind of technology has created the issue of people wanting convenience and sacrificing their personal information as a result.  Just read the comments at the end of the "Visa rolling out payWave mobile phone payments in NY subway and taxis," article which has alot of people question the security in contactless payment systems for mobile phones. 

        As far as the government developing a set of rules or rights for contactless payment systems will probably not be in the works for a long time.  From doing research on this topic, I have found that credit card companies want to gain consumer confidence in using their wireless credit card payment system.  As with all payment devices, contactless cards have a number of security features. Contactless runs over the same chip and PIN network as normal credit and debit card transactions, there is a payment limit on single transactions and contactless cards can only be used a certain number of times before customers are asked for their PIN.  Contactless debit and credit transactions are protected by the same fraud guarantee as standard transactions. 

        Under fraud guarantee standards US banks claim to be liable for any fraudulent transactions charged to the contactless cards. However, banks are not liable for the identity theft that the RFID card can encourage.  This still presents a big concern for the consumer using their cell phone to pay for products using the contactless payment system.   So for now it is the corporations who are managing the security of these devices and not the government.  So if your identity is stolen or an illegal transaction was made while using your phone to conduct the transaction, then you have to contact your bank or credit card company to resolve the issue.  There is no government agency that can help consumers with this issue.  So how do we deal with the identity theft issue that this new technology creates?

        To give us security and peace of mind when using contactless payment systems, companies like Visa are using hardware and software to develop more code to secure consumer confidence so that people will continue to use their contactless payment system.  According to  Visa's website they have several security features offered to protect consumers.  Realtime Fraud protection, Transaction Protection, and Zero Liability, are some of the features Visa offers to protect the transaction but not the identity of the person.  So if someone gets a persons name, address, phone number and credit card number, the credit card company will take care of the compromised credit card number but not the issue of personal information being stolen.  Their are a few organizations that can help consumers with this issue.  Life lock and Identity Theft Shield offered by Pre-Paid Legal are the two services that I know of which help track and prevent identity theft for consumers.  Until legislation is passed or a government entity is formed specifically to handle this issue, then this is what consumers have to protect their personal identity.

        Also, instead of going to the bank, we can now take a picture of our check using an application which is downloaded on our smart phone and send it to our bank which is instantly deposited in our bank account.  We can transfer money between accounts or check account balances on the go with our mobile phones by using an app which can be downloaded off of a bank's website. 

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        Calling into a phone system to check balances or transfer money can now be done on the go by using our mobile phones.  Our lives have become very automated removing the need for human to human interaction.  Instead, 1 and 0's have taken the place of having any real contact with human beings when it comes to electronic transactions.  So how else has the mobile phone affected or changed our lives?

        Creating a wallet-free future where credit card and banking information will be stored in our cell phones.  Then instead of pulling out a credit card to pay for a purchase, people will pay with their cell phone.  Instead of going to the bank, people will use their phones.  So once companies can make sure financial transactions on mobile phones are completely secure and educate people on how to properly use these new payment or financial systems, then people will be ready for a wallet-free future!

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