Term Paper: Cell Phone as an Electronic

Pages: 30 (8384 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Education - Computers  ·  Buy This Paper

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[. . .] In fact, DoCoMo's plans are seen as perhaps becoming the first step towards a low rent version of one of computer science's biggest dreams: ubiquitous computing or the promised "third wave" in which networked computers merge seamlessly into the human environment.

Of course, the ultimate dream for ubiquitous computing is a scenario where office worker's refrigerators scan themselves every afternoon to see whether they have any milk, and when workers get into their cars, their phones automatically call their houses, which respond with "buy milk" reminders. Although DoCoMo's current plans are nowhere near that ultimate dream, their new cell phone system is seen as a first step because it aims to replace the consumer's wallet: "All the credit cards, loyalty cards, keys, money - all that stuff in a woman's purse or man's wallet - should go into the phone...you shouldn't need anything else but your clothes." (Mann, 2004, p. 44)

While DoCoMo may have just introduced a line of four mobile phones that can be used as an electronic wallet at 9,000 locations (Lindenberg, 2004, para 2), South Korea's three telecom giants, major credit card companies and several banks have already been working together for almost two years to enable Koreans to pay for everything from groceries to gasoline by cell phone. In fact, Korea probably currently leads the world in the development and deployment of such technology, which enables Kim Won-jung to walk up to a vending machine and buy an orange drink with just the press of a cell phone button (Joshi, 2003, para 1).

Korea and Japan's being at the forefront of such cell phone technology is not surprising since the cell phone is already used in these countries for a lot more than just a tool for talking: "Kids surf the Internet. Parents transfer money. Some play the lottery, others book movie tickets and millions snap pictures. So why not make the phone a full-fledged wallet." (Joshi, 2003, para 8-9) Indeed, it is the wide spread popularity and use of the cell phone for far more than just making and receiving phone calls, in countries like Japan and Korea, that has led to the development of cell phone-based payment systems by storing the data for credit and debit cards in the hand sets: "Credit cards are just a physical variant of identity, so anyway you can identify someone can be a way to pay for things." (Maney, cited Gage, 2003, para 1)

Thus, the writing is on the wall for a future world where instead of handing over credit or debit cards that get swiped, cell phone users will be able to simply type their passcode on their phone keypad, point the device at a special receiver on a checkout counter and press a key: "It's as simple as operating a TV remote. The phone shoots the card data in an infrared beam or radio waves. No signature is necessary. For small payments at vending machines, the passcode isn't even required." (Joshi, 2003, para 11-12)

Cell phone-based payment systems are also likely to benefit consumers by offering the convenience of paying for daily, small value financial transactions such as the use of mass transit systems or even car parking facilities. In fact, such systems have already been implemented in several parts of the world such as Japan and Estonia. Though there are several, different versions of cell phone-based payments for the use of transit systems and parking, for consumers any well-designed payment option via the cell phone, will mean relief from coins or coupons: "...To Juri and others from Estonia and many other cities in Central and Eastern Europe, the parking systems in the United States...with payment terminals, easily counterfeited tokens and tickets, barriers, parking guards collecting cash - seem hopelessly old-fashioned." (Dyson, 2001, para 7)

As compared to such old-fashioned, multi-tiered payment systems, parking in Estonia is simply a matter of sending an SMS (Short Message Service) to the city's parking service. Based on the cell phone number, the license number, and the location entered, the parking service's database just registers the car as parked, with a rate tied to the location and time (Dyson, 2001, para 3).

In a similar vein, cell phone-based payments are expected to increase user convenience, besides resolving many of the present problems that are inherent in smart card payment systems that are currently used in many mass transit operations:

the cards do have disadvantages. Because users can't see how much money remains on their cards, they often discover they have run out, or don't have enough to pay their fares, only when the doors slam shut on them as they try to walk through the turnstile. Exacerbating the humiliation...cards are inconvenient to recharge: a card owner must back out of the turnstile...find the nearest...machine, and put the card and money into it. If a card is stolen, its owner may be out of luck: unlike credit cards...can't be canceled...some Tokyo customers report that...chips go bad after a year or so in sweaty wallets.... When the cards die, their owners lose whatever money is still on them." (Mann, 2004, p. 48)

Connecting the smart card to a cell phone with a sophisticated display will eliminate the problems described in the above scenario in one stroke. For instance, instead of recharging the cards, cell phone users will simply call up their bank Web sites and add funds to their accounts by direct deposit, then read their balances on the phone's screen. Further, since the carapace of the phone handset will protect the "smart" chips, the chips are less likely to go bad. Even if they do break down, the bank records all transactions, preventing monetary losses. And if thieves snatch the phone, a simple phone call to the telecom company cancels the thief's access to the phone and the money through it (Mann, 2004, p. 48).

One key to the world

Besides storing debit, credit, and smart card information in cell phones, telecom companies are also developing the cellular hand set to work as a remote control and identification device. In Estonia, such services already exist, which allow, for example, mobile phone subscribers to use their phone to switch on their car heater remotely (Dyson, 2001, para 21).

Korea, as expected, is even further ahead and has developed technology that allows the cell phone to be used as an identification device. This has been made possible by various entities such as Harex Infotech and the country's second largest mobile phone company KTF, collaborating with institutions such as Sookmyung Women's University to let students use their phones as identification cards. "The phone's 'hot key' can open doors and parking lot gates on campus, register for courses, borrow books at the library or post notices on the campus Web site." (Joshi, 2003, para 18-19)

And that's not all. In Japan, NTT DoCoMo is seeing a future where the cell phone will ultimately become the main interface between networked devices in homes and offices. An office worker, for example, might go into an empty office and identify himself to a computer using his phone, which would then allow him to access only his files (Mann, 2004, p. 48). Such developments imply that the cell phone may well replace the currently used smart cards or tokens (often in the form of key fob devices), which fit into computer USB ports as security devices, to authenticate users on computer networks: "These cards and tokens have microprocessor chips that are capable of encrypting information while being difficult to hack or duplicate. IT security experts predict the next application may be in homes...in order to make secure purchases on the Internet." (Weston, 2004, para 8)

One other application that has a huge potential in the development of the cellular phone as an electronic wallet, is the concept of maintaining bank account balances on a standard cell phone:

Fewer and fewer consumers are carrying around bulky checkbooks and check registers to record account transactions and the use of check cards and debit cards are on the rise.... The result is a situation where an individual is often unaware of their current account balance and, in some cases, will overdraw their account. Many of these same consumers are already carrying a cell phone and 'The Mobile Checkbook' will make it convenient for them to maintain their checking account while standing in line at the store, on the way to their car, or virtually anywhere." (Mobatech, 2003, para 5)

Thus, it is obvious that the telecom majors, financial companies and their business partners are seriously working on developing the cell phone as an ubiquitous instrument that will fulfill virtually every conceivable data, interface, transaction, and communication need.

Besides the almost exhaustive list of possibilities, which have already been described, it is also important to note that the cell phone is likely to become the instrument of choice for a whole range of other electronic purchases and processes. For instance,… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Cell Phone as an Electronic.  (2004, August 30).  Retrieved April 19, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/cell-phone-electronic/1449746

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