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People will soon be able to pay on the high street using their cell phones

The way we pay for everyday items on the high street is changing, and some new advances that have been in the pipeline for a while are about to make their way into popular culture.

For many people the prospect of paying for goods using their smartphone is something that has been in the cards, but never really considered as a genuine option – but experts are suggesting that this will be possible on a massive scale throughout the US and UK before the end of next year.

More than 90% of the providers of current accounts in the UK, for example, have agreed to launch the mobile payments capability in spring 2014, which means that the first industry wide mobile payment system will be freely available to the general public for the first time.

NFC Technology May Be the Past

There are ways to pay for goods using a mobile phone already – think NFC technology, such as Google Wallet – but this will be the first time that customers will be able to link their mobile phone numbers to their bank accounts.

How does it work?

The way it works is not too different from a text message – customers will be able to use their personal telephone numbers to send and receive payments (which is not too dissimilar to making a payment using a credit card number when you think about it), which should be much safer than having to send around your bank details when you want to purchase something.

Eight of the UK’s largest banks have agreed to participate so far, and it’s likely that more financial bodies will jump on board before the scheme is fully launched.

Will Becker, Managing Director of credit card comparison site TotallyMoney.com, commented:

“The ability to use a smart phone to pay is great innovation. However, uptake won’t be universal: there’s a big question about whether for most there’s a huge amount of additional convenience. We’re not expecting the end of plastic anytime soon.

It’s not that hard to carry debit or credit cards. More importantly, it’s vital even when paying via smartphone for people to separate paying by current account and paying from a credit account. Just as in the world of plastic, the bank account will not offer the same purchase protections afforded payments on a credit card account.”

People Are Likely to Use This

The Payments Council, who are leading the project, conducted research that suggests approximately one third of smartphone users (who accounted for around two thirds of those surveyed) said they would either “definitely” sign up for the service straight away, or would be “extremely likely” to do so, even before more financial institutions sign up for the service.

More than 5,000 Brits took part in the Payments Council survey, which suggests that a reasonable amount of people will be looking to get involved, though as Will Becker suggested, many will be waiting to see how the system pans out before taking the plunge themselves.

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