Smartphones to let you swipe and shop

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Credit cards make shopping much safer and more convenient than using cash. The same could be said for smartphones, which represent a marked improvement in communication over the traditional telephone.

Now companies are looking to combine the two modern conveniences into one. Consumers can soon get the best of both worlds as three big networks from the UK plan to develop an opt-in service that will enable a phone’s SIM to store relevant data from a person’s bank, loyalty and credit cards.

Under the plans, Vodafone, EE and O2 will enable users to swipe the SIM on a card reader in participating shops to pay for their bills in an instant.

“You’ll be able to pick up your goods from the counter – your sandwich or whatever it might be, on a small transaction – and simply swipe your phone, rather than having to get your card out of your wallet,” said David Sear, Chief Executive of Weve, which manages the project.

The company will allow retailers to sign up later in 2013, and in return, they can take advantage of advertising opportunities such as sending special offer alerts to mobile phones. Similar virtual wallets have been started by Google, Mastercard, PayPal and Barclays, although they have not yet caught on in the UK.

Future users will likely be concerned about security, so the services will restrict the amount that can be spent using the phone without entering the PIN code. Nonetheless, cyber security expert Jason Hart urges users to protect their smartphones with a password.

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