Your phone is your wallet

You've seen those adverts, right, for 'contactless' credit and debit cards? Where you can spend your money with alarming ease just by waving your card in the general direction of a till? Maybe you've even got one? Well, what if you didn't need a card at all - because you could just wave your phone?

This, it seems, is the future. The next generation of smartphones is expected to include NFC, the technology that powers contactless payments. And the various software folks are working on payment systems - Google is partnering with MasterCard for a system for Android phones, while Microsoft is reportedly planning a system for the next upgrade to Windows Phone 7.

But what about the many, many people in the world who don't have an Android or WP7 phone? Well, a little-known company called Gemalto thinks it has the answer. It's also partnered with MasterCard to produce a SIM card with support for both NFC itself, and a payment system, built-in. That means any phone anywhere in the world - well, any phone on the widespread GSM or UMTS systems, which use SIM cards, anyway - could be NFC payments-equipped in minutes.

Pretty nifty, huh? So soon you might be able to leave your wallet behind and just go everywhere with your phone. Until you lose it. Then you'll be screwed.

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