CES 2012: NFC Gets Edge in Mobile Payments Race

CES 2012: NFC Gets Edge in Mobile Payments Race

Moneto, a service to make NFC-based payments with any smartphone, is strengthening NFC’s foothold in the mobile payment race.

Many phones are not equipped with near-field communications chips, which proponents of alternate mobile payment systems, such as Square and PayPal, are counting on to hold back the technology from becoming a successful competitor.

Moneto, a new service from DeviceFidelity and Spring Card Systems, alleviates this problem by using a microSD card embedded with NFC technology to transform almost any smartphone into an NFC-ready device.

Any Android smartphone or tablet that supports microSD expansion can use Moneto. It is the same size as a standard microSD card, but has an NFC chip and antenna built into it. After installing the card and signing up for service, users are able to pay for purchases by waving their phone at a special reader device.

Users must also place a sticker on the battery underneath the device’s rear cover to help send NFC signals. Consumers will able to buy Moneto in a few months for $30.

Moneto also comes in an iOS version, available as an iPhone case equipped with embedded NFC technology. The Moneto case fits all iPhone models and is available now for $80, including $10 in pre-loaded funds.

The service works with MasterCard’s PayPass service and comes with a companion prepaid MasterCard.

Moneto marks the first time consumers can use NFC functionality without buying a new phone, upgrading data plans or signing a new carrier contract. Most smartphone manufacturers are adding NFC technology to upcoming devices, but for consumers who don’t want to wait or who want to stick with the device they have, Moneto will likely be an attractive option.

Moneto will help NFC-based mobile payment systems get past slow adoption, due to the lack of the technology in so many phones. It may also gain ground against other systems that require buying a separate credit card reader that plugs into a smartphone, such as Square.

Google’s mobile payment app, Google Wallet, and the carrier- and credit card-sponsored Isis, which is due out later this year, will also likely gain users with Moneto, further strengthening NFC’s penetration as the mobile payment market heats up.

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