Mobile payment, search applications catching on in US

After a slow start, they're gaining traction

Mobile payment and product search technology has been touted by vendors and futurists for years but is only now becoming a reality in the US.

Two recent announcements show movement on the technology. Cellular South in Mississippi joined USA Technologies in Pennsylvania to announce a two-city consumer trial of WirelessWallet, a service that will let consumers make purchases and payments from a cellphone.

The trial involves 75 customers who will test the concept at 50 retail locations in Memphis and Jackson, according to a statement from the Cellular South. They will use handsets from Kyocera that will act as a digital credit card. A customer will be able to tap a phone against a Near Field Communication-enabled wireless reader.

Following completion of the trial this August, a rollout is scheduled for early 2008, the companies say.

Also, Sprint Nextel and New York-based GPShopper announced Slifter, a product search application that relies on GPS technology to help consumers find products.

It does not provide mobile payment capabilities like WirelessWallet does, however.

With Slifter, users can enter a keyword, product name, model number or UPC number to find a product, and they can then view its availability, price and promotional information, the companies said in a statement. The GPS feature will help users locate the nearest stores. The search covers 85 million products at 30,000 retailers.

Slifter is similar to a second-generation application announced in Japan this month for finding information on 700,000 stores and points of interest using several mobile phone devices over the KDDI network there. The Japanese-based service, called Mapion Pointing Application, from GeoVector in San Francisco, allows a user to opt in to receive advertisements over the phones.

The first generation of Mapion was launched in January 2006 in Japan. The application allows a user to point and click a mobile phone at a restaurant, store or historical site to receive content, such as a restaurant’s menu. GeoVector uses pointing-based technology and a spatial search engine to find what is being clicked on. The newest version will allow advertisers to send coupons and other promotions related to what the user has clicked on.

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Tags USmobile paymentSpecial IDmobile search

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