Smartphones have transformed people's lives in Asia in a dramatic fashion.
By February 2012, Singaporeans will not have to necessarily carry cash or credit cards while going for grocery shopping or taking the subways. They just have to tap their cell phones on sensors and payments will be automatically made.
This new payment system based on the wireless standard known as near field communication (NFC) is going to be rolled out with the help of telecom companies and financial institutions. The government has already requested for proposals from interested parties to create and manage the communication infrastructure that all banks, transport operators and other service providers can use to deliver services.
Singapore had first tried to introduce mobile payment system as early as 2003. At that time it had tried to use cellphones as a device to make payments at parking bays. But the service could not be launched commercially, as the entire process was not efficient: users had to get a personal identification number from their bank, an SMS code, or call a certain telephone number for transactions to be approved.
Then in 2007, tests were conducted to use mobile phones to pay for food bills and train rides. Again, the services received lukewarm response because users and service providers on different payment platforms could not transact with each other.
There was another big problem as well. A very big one indeed: shortage of mobile handsets that supported contactless payment. Now, with the rise of smartphones, which have the ability to perform various tasks, this problem is going to be solved as well.
Google, Nokia, Samsung and reportedly Apple are rolling out new models of their smartphones with built-in NFC capabilities. This will make smartphones even smarter while making people's lives easier.
Smartphones have transformed people's lives in a dramatic fashion over the years.