Tim O’Reilly on Mobile Phones as Payment Devices

Here, O’Reilly is quoting Karl Fogel from an email:

Independently of operator billing, using phones should massively cut down on credit-card fraud. If your credit card is a fully-functional computer that can verify its owner interactively, then one can use a different “credit card number” for every transaction… And we’d no longer be in this silly situation where merely knowing a 16-digit number (plus a guessable expiration date and zip code) enables people to impersonate others in purchases.

From what I hear, Apple is working like mad on this stuff. But, of course, in Apple’s plan, it won’t be carrier billing — it’ll be iTunes account billing. And that, in turn, has a different and more limited scope than what PPK wrote about in the aforelinked piece. I know you can charge up an iTunes account with gift cards, but I suspect most people have their iTunes accounts backed by a credit card. What PPK’s talking about is the vast untapped worldwide market of people who don’t have a credit card.

Thursday, 27 January 2011