Major Banks Already Testing Mobile In-Store Purchases

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Photo credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Photo credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images

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WASHINGTON (CBSDC) - Bank of America is looking to the future with the connection between smart phones and bank accounts by a testing a new techy method of payment.

The bank is testing a technology already being used in Asia which allows customers to pay for items at store registers by scanning an image with their smartphones, according to an NBC report. Tests are being conducted in the banks hometown of Charlotte, where Bank of America launched its pilot program last week with five different merchants.

Of course, just because they’re testing it out doesn’t mean the company has a lock on the future of mobile payment. Bank of America also ran trials with Near Field Communication technology, using a chip installed in the phone that transmits a radio signal when waved or tapped at a device near the cash register, according to the report. The main issue with this technology of course is if your phone is stolen from you, the thief has direct access to your bank account.

Currently the program is partnered with a startup called Paydiant and is functioning with iPhones and phones utilizing the Android operating system. The trial is set to last three months and is strictly restricted to bank employees, eliminating the hazard of phone theft for the time being.

A Bank of America spokesperson wouldn’t comment which company – Paydiant or NFC – the bank is leaning towards using but the latter took a huge hit when Apple decided not to embed their chips in the iPhone 5.

The technology may not be right for the U.S. yet, but worldwide mobile payments are expected to exceed $171 billion in 2012, says the consulting firm Gartner.

Progressive companies like Starbucks already have smart phone gift cards which use scannable bar codes for method of payment. The technology is there, it’s just a matter of selecting the appropriate kind to make customers feel secure before we take yet another giant step into the future with our everyday lives.

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