According to RWW, Google announced yesterday that the next version of Android (Gingerbread) will include native support for Near Field Communications (NFC). NFC, according to available definitions:
…is a wireless technology that allows data to be exchanged between two different devices — say, a credit card or a cell phone and a credit card terminal — from a short distance away. If your phone has NFC, you can hold it near a terminal. The phone and the terminal communicate, and the terminal communicates with a remote computer to approve payment.
Apparently, credit card companies think that this technology is more secure than credit cards. I suppose it could be. It’s also putting a lot into your phone, and that tends to make people a little squeamish. Google, God bless that amazing company, has a ridiculous amount of information on me. I use Google docs, Gmail, Google apps and I plan to switch this month from Blackberry to an Android phone (Sorry, RIM. I love you but your browser is terrible). If I were to let it, I could easily become paranoid about laying this much information into one company….but I’m not going to worry about it.
So, how does this change things for us? My guess is that in five years, most of us won’t be swiping credit cards anymore. Why not faster? Well, in order for you to “bump” your phone to charge a payment, I imagine you’ll need a receiving system that is willing to accept the bump. I don’t see most companies getting rid of swipe machines in lieu of NFC-enabled terminals until they absolutely have to. That means that until current technology fades, we’ll still have to pull out our Visa cards at most locations.