THUMBS UP: New Technology Charges Phones with Credit

Physician's Money Digest, October 2005, Volume 12, Issue 14

If you thought that downloadingyour favorite TV theme song as your cellphone's ring tone was the absoluteapex of cool cell phone technology, prepareto be amazed yet again. In Japan,cell phones are now being used likecredit cards. For example, you can walkup to a soda machine equipped with acell phone-compatible scanner, swipeyour phone over the sensor, and themachine deducts the price automaticallyfrom a debit account. Users buy creditsof up to $500 that are deducted witheach purchase. The phones can also beused at convenience stores, movie theaters,and for shopping online, if youhave the proper scanner. Japanese cellphone carrier DoCoMo Inc is behind thetechnology, which is currently trying todevelop the phones to be used as creditcards, allowing for much larger purchases.It is uncertain when or if thistechnology will make its way to theUnited States, but one day in the nearfuture you may just have patients callingfor an appointment and makingtheir copayment with the same phone.