If your mobile phone becomes your new wallet, what happens if the battery dies…?

Mobile phones

The trend is clear, a lot of companies want the mobile phone to become your new wallet and replace the credit card.

Google will add support for it with Android 2.3, also known as Gingerbread. Nokia will support it on its 2011 Symbian phones. Apple is rumored to be working on it as well.

We’re talking about NFC, near-field communication. Think RFID. It’s a short-range wireless technology that will let mobile phones act as anything from wallets to hotel keys to tickets. The Web has been all over this since Google CEO Eric Schmidt announced that the next version of Android would support NFC.

At the Web 2.0 Summit this week, Schmidt said it straight out: “This could replace your credit card.”

Which is understandable. Provided vendors add support for it, customers would be able to pay by just swiping their mobile phones across a reader. Pretty handy.

Just one question…

So, providing NFC-equipped mobile phones become the de-facto replacement of the credit card down the line, a few challenges will remain (aside from getting people to use it in the first place).

Primarily, what will you do when your mobile dies? It could be anything. Dead battery, or you manage to break it some other way.

We’re sure you’ll recognize this situation. It’s one of the modern world’s lovely little humiliations that seem to have happened at least once to every person alive: You’re standing in line at the grocery store’s cash register. Now it’s finally your turn to pay, but for some reason your credit card won’t process, and you don’t have enough cash to pay for your wares. The queue piles up behind you…

Will the new version of that be a dead mobile? “Oops, sorry, just have to charge my phone…”

Maybe in the future every cashier will be equipped with mobile phone chargers, just in case…


  1. So, when I buy my duty free from the stewardess whilst flying at 30,000 feet I’ll just get out my phone to pay for it… Oh, wait…

  2. do chips need power? Sure lots of active stuff can happen when the phone has power, an interface for transaction and receipt etc. But the chip does not need power to be read, as per conventional NFC cards i.e when phone is off. Without doing any googling this seems obvious to me, but perhaps someone else can elaborate.

  3. I’m sure all such mobile payment systems require connection to the Internet for transaction to be completed.
    So even if chips don’t require battery power – you still need power for Internet connection.

  4. Well, there is also a movement underway for universal charge connectors based on USB and micro USB. So it should be easy to offer a plug to give the phone power for the time of the transaction.

    Also, it all depends on the NFC is active only or also passive. Passive NFC (think really RFID) could be complemented by some sort of pin pad. Or you can have software that shuts down the phone but leaves the NFC feature enabled, Allowing the confirmation with a PIN or Signature pad over the network of the merchant.

  5. My question is, how long before a thief hacks together a device that can scan your bank information off your phone through your pocket fabric? He’d just have to find some way to surreptitiously wave a little box in the general vicinity of your waist and you’d suddenly be a whole lot poorer.

Leave a Reply

Comments are moderated and not published in real time. All comments that are not related to the post will be removed.required