Monday, 12 November 2007

Bend over to Pay

Starhub (a cable and mobile operator) has joined up with EZlink for a mobile payment scheme where you can use a special mobile phone (with a near field communications - NFC) chip to pay at trains, buses, libraries, and so on. SingTel is working on a similar trial with slightly different technology but same result.

I see a problem - it's a 'near field' system; you have to touch the phone to the reader, say at a bus exit door, on a station turnstile or on a counter top. How are you going to do this while using the phone?

I foresee comical gymnastics at MRT turnstiles and buses as people nod down with their heads to pay while talking, trying to look out of the corner of their eyes to check the display.

Of course, many people have the dreaded hands free style where people hold their phones near their heads and talk in a semi-handsfree mode. If you've ever been on the receiving end of this style you would have wondered why the caller always seemed to be standing on a busy railway platform, such is the background noise. Or maybe it will trigger greater use of those farcical Bluetooth wireless headsets (a la Nathan Barley). Whatever, it should be fun to watch.