Gadget Guru: Near Field Communication turning cell phones into wallets

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Vincent Mecca, Opinion Co-Editor

Sometimes we refer to our cell phones as “containing our lives.”

They hold all our contacts.  They store all of our important dates in our calendar.  They serve as our clock. They remind us with alerts and alarms.  They connect us to social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.  And some even provide us with GPS to find our way in the world.

Now, cell phones can even act like wallets.

In 2012, new methods of paying with our phone are now becoming more prominent.

NFC, or Near Field Communication, is a way to establish a communication between two devices that is being installed in more and more cell phones.

Using this technology, one can swipe his or her cell phone over a designated area, almost like a credit card, to complete payment.  One app designed by Google to use this technology is “Google Wallet.”  That’s not all, though; using the mobile device with NFC could allow it to be used as a security pass, metro pass and much more.

According to the research firm Juniper, NFC payments will have accounted for $74 billion in transactions by 2015.

With this new technology, there are some concerns being raised.  Losing your cell phone means calling up your mobile provider and canceling your service on the device.  Losing your wallet means you have to call your bank and cancel your credit cards.  With NFC, would this mean that you would have a double-whammy?  Also, when it comes to pretty much anything digitally stored (i.e. our credit card information on a computer or cell phone) the risk of that information being stolen increases.  Questions remain whether NFC would be secure against outside hacking attempts.

However, NFC mobile payments may also provide some benefits.  You will no longer have to carry multiple credit cards or discount/membership cards, which bulk up your wallet.  And in fact, apps like Google Wallet may provide additional security to you by requiring a pin code before a transaction may be complete, which is something that a lost or stolen credit card does not.

There will always be security flaws and concerns with any new piece of technology, but one thing seems certain. NFC and mobile payments are in our future, and will change the way we live and make purchases.