Carriers, Credit Card Companies Are Pressing Ahead on Mobile Wallets

Modern Cash RegisterWireless carriers have abandoned their original plan of bypassing credit card companies in order to create their own mobile payment payment network. Now, they’re collaborating with those companies to leverage the credit cards you already use.

The complexity of building a separate payment network proved a major stumbling block for the carriers, who now expect a quicker deployment of mobile payment technology. The carriers are talking with Visa and MasterCard about getting credit card information into phones.

The effect would be the ability to swipe your phone like you do a credit card. The idea is to use near-field communication technology, which allows for secure wireless transmission of data over short distances. Wireless operators, handset makers and even Google have been busy testing the concept.

And, the race is heating up. Google’s been working with MasterCard and Citigroup to embed payment information using NFC in the latest Android operating system. Research In Motion is working with MasterCard and Bank of America so BlackBerry smartphones can make mobile payments.

Of course, storing financial information on your phone sounds like another security headache. The Wall Street Journal reports wireless carriers want to keep your financial info on the phone’s SIM card, which would give the carrier access to it. Google and smartphone manufacturers would prefer the information be stored on NFC chips, which would give more leverage to the companies that develop the OS, like Google.

Um, anybody lose a phone or wallet lately? I hope not…