Samsung to add payment function to cell phones

Samsung and Philips are teaming to incorporate Near-Field Communication (NFC) technology in future mobile phones from Samsung, giving users the ability to use their phones to make payments, the companies said Tuesday.

NFC is a short-range wireless technology that can be used for identification and communication. As a communications technology, NFC can allow a phone to wirelessly transfer photographs to an NFC-enabled television or computer.

NFC can also be used for other functions, including payment. The technology is found in contactless smart cards for payment and transport systems in Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong.

Incorporating an NFC chip from Philips in Samsung's phones will effectively turn the handsets into contactless smart cards, with the ability to make payments, according to a joint statement. The phones could also be used as a key card to enter a building, for example.

The statement did not specify when Samsung plans to release its first NFC-enabled handset. But the cell phones will be just the first devices from Samsung to incorporate the technology, according to the statement, implying that it plans to add the technology to other devices as well.

Samsung is not the first company to put NFC into a cell phone.

Last year, NTT DoCoMo and Sony formed a joint venture, Felica Networks, to develop an NFC-based payment system for use in cell phones. Those handsets include three models in DoCoMo's 2G (second-generation) line from Panasonic Mobile Communications, Sharp and Sony, and one 3G (third generation) handset from Fujitsu.

Nokia has also announced plans to offer NFC-enabled cell phones.

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Sumner Lemon

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