Talking tech since 2003

One of the biggest complaints that I’ve heard about the new iPhone is its lack of support for Near Field Communication, or NFC. In case you’re unfamiliar with the term, it’s the capability of a device to be able to transmit data to other devices that are near-by. Usually, the devices need to be touched together or within a few centimeters of each other. Most NFC enthusiasts (lol) believe that it will become a standard medium for mobile payments. The idea is that a user will simply tap their phone (which will be holding credit card data) against a checkout machine at a store, and the payment will process without the need to ever open a wallet.

Now that’s all fine and dandy, but there’s one important thing we need to remember: a phone is not a wallet. In my opinion, there are huge security risks that are naturally built in to this. And I’m not talking about super-technical cyper-security risks, I’m talking about physical security issues.

What’s the main difference between your smartphone and your wallet? Unless you’re Flo Rida at a club in South Beach, I’d guess that you don’t take your wallet out all that much. If you’re a guy, it probably resides in your back pocket most of the day; if you’re a girl it probably lives in whatever bag is in style this season. You might take it out once or twice a day. Conversely, I bet you are playing with your phone all day. You’re texting, tweeting, facebooking, and possibly even calling people. It probably sits out on your desk, or in your lap. Girls, I bet three fourths of it sticks out of your tiny back pocket a lot of the time. See where I’m going here? Your phone is much more accessible, and therefore much easier to be lost or stolen. So what happens if your phone now not only has access to all of your credit card information, but also acts as your credit card? When I was a little kid and had my first wallet, I once pulled it out and carried it around in my hands. My dad told me to put it away and not flash money around. My original thought was that I was being rude; now I know it’s because he didn’t want anyone to take it.

NFC technology is really cool, but I’m not convinced that mobile payments are the best use for it. Think: how many of your friends have lost their phone? Had their phone stolen? Dropped it in a toilet (guilty)? Broken it on the ground? It’s really hard to break or lose your credit card; your phone does not have that quality.

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