Recent reports reveal yet more evidence that the mobile phone is set to become the only thing you’ll need in a pocket when out and about, suggesting that trials of NFC to pay for products
wirelessly could just be the tip of the iceberg. Two convenience-led benefits in the form of mobile check-in and security at airports and card-less ATM withdrawals are both set to become widespread in the near future, following positive reports of trials so far.
Virtual boarding cards
Airlines have been searching for a more efficient way to check in passengers for some time, and developments such as e-tickets, electronic check-in desks and biometric devices that scan a fingerprint or an eye have all been trialled or put into practice. The mobile phone could soon become an essential part of this equation however, and Juniper Research reports that by 2013 one in seven boarding passes will be delivered to a handheld.
British Airways is one of 30 airlines already offering mobile boarding passes for specific routes on the iPhone, BlackBerry and Android operating systems and reports so far suggest they have been a great success, but things won’t stop there.
A handheld could also be used for booking, security checks and boarding a flight, adding further convenience to what has traditionally been a painful experience. Looking further into the future, a study by flight-reservations provider Amadeus IT Holding indicates that travellers will be able to benefit from services that deliver information to phones on baggage and flights, will be using emerging technologies such as NFC to check passengers in as soon as they arrive at a terminal and information on check in and flight status could be sent to a mobile to improve efficiency during peak hours.
An industry report “Navigating the Airport of Tomorrow”, which is based on Amadeus’ research, was recently compiled by author Norm Rose, who states “It is clear that self service and mobility are key themes of the airport of tomorrow. Ubiquitous connectivity means the passenger is always online and therefore in turn expects real-time communication. Even simple advances such as verifying that a passenger’s baggage is on board the aircraft can greatly help to minimise frustration and uncertainty. That said, in order to genuinely achieve this vision of the airport of tomorrow, airlines and airports must invest in new systems that automate manual tasks, share information and provide proactive communication to the passenger.”
ATMs to offer cardless withdrawals via mobile phones
The ”humble” mobile phone certainly seems to be hell-bent on becoming the quintessential ubiquitous device and with NFC payments looking to replace loose change, you could soon be ditching the plastic as well.
First National Bank (FNB) in South Africa is currently allowing its customers to use their mobile phones to withdraw cash from regular ATM machines without the use of a credit or debit card. The system works by sending a unique PIN to the mobile via text message once a user’s identity has been verified by logging in to their account. This PIN, which expires after 30 minutes for security purposes and can only be used once, can be entered into any of its 4,500 ATMs across the country to withdraw cash.
CEO of FNB Cellphone Banking Solutions, Ravesh Ramlakan comments "Technology has enabled us to respond quickly and proactively to our customers' needs by coming up with solutions that will help them go about their business. We've monitored customer behaviour and have found that they often have to enter a branch to get cash because they've left their bank cards at home. Now, when you forget your purse or wallet at home, or just quickly need cash for life's little emergencies, you can simply use your cellphone."
Aside from offering an alternative to those who have forgotten their bank card or PIN number, the technology also addresses security concerns surrounding “skimming devices” that have been fitted to ATMs to copy card details, miniature cameras designed to record PIN entry and of course, the possibility of someone looking over your shoulder. .
With both these technologies offering genuine benefits to consumers and concerns surrounding security on mobiles already a topical concern, the onus will be on the providers to ensure that sufficient measures have been taken to prevent these technologies from being abused. However, the fact that a mobile phone will always be vulnerable to loss or theft coupled with the emerging threat of malware and viruses designed to steal data from under your nose just underlines the importance of incorporating modern security into a phone’s arsenal.