Starbucks is just the beginning.
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In the not-too-distant future, wallets will be a thing of the past. Every piece of meaningful data in your life- cards, ID, money, will be stored in your cellphone. Finally, we'll be freed from the tyranny of bulging pockets forever. There are some downsides to this leap forward- namely the fact that losing your phone / running out of power will turn from "inconvenience" to "absolute catastrophe". But hey- such is the march of progress.
Starbucks has decided to jump right to the front of that march. We reported earlier that the famed coffee maven will be one of the first major chains to push mobile payment technology. Useablenet's big mobile payment tech has also drawn a great deal of interest.
While Starbucks is working to allow the use of a phone-as-payment method, Usablenet is working to make phone-shopping a more seamless and pleasant experience for customers. The approach is different, but the end is the same- more people making purchases on-the-go with their smartphones.
Near Field Communication (possible on the Nexus S- and probably the iPhone 5) is another technology pushing us towards mobile payment. In Japan, most people spend money every day on small ($4-$6) items via mobile. The phone-as-a-wallet is a reality there. The success of NFC technology in Japan means its adoption here is only a matter of time.
...But there are serious problems still holding NFC adoption back. Namely, hardware limitations in retail outlets and fact that our mobile phone market has WAY more competition than Japan's. NTT DoCoMo can pretty much set "the standard" over there. No one carrier has the power to push NFCs here in the US. Nor does any one bank.
Visa and Bank of America are sure as hell trying though. The credit card and the uber-bank are working on a series of NFC-packing microSD cards that can be slotted into a smartphone to enable mobile (Visa driven) payment.
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So that's a start. Where things go next is up to you. And a bunch of multi-billion dollar banks, device-makers and carriers. But hey, you matter too.