Infographic: How Mobile Phones Are Replacing Our Credit Cards


if Jack Dorsey has his way, there will be no reason for you to carry around cash anymore. Square, his most recent startup, has raised more than $100 million in funding to-date; with it, he hopes to enable everyone to accept mobile credit card payments using nothing more than a smartphone and a small attachment. And I wouldn't bet against him. The last big project he was affiliated with: Twitter.

But Square isn't the only player in this space. The mobile payment market is a rapidly growing one: PayPal, which recently acquired Zong for $240 million, has predicted that wallets will be a thing of the past by 2015; Google launched Google Wallet for Android users; and American Express is working on its own system. This is just the latest, though, in a long history of advancements, according to a new infographic assembled by G+. "Money has evolved several times in human history: barter, coins, paper, plastic and now phones? It's true -- commerce is the next major advancement in mobile technology," the introduction reads. "Through the use of near field communication (NFC) chips, several companies are about to revolutionize the way we shop, replacing our wallets with our smartphones."

Infographics are always a bit of a hodgepodge of statistics culled from a variety of sources. Here, we sort through the clutter and pull out some of our favorite facts and figures:

  • The growing mobile payments market: Mobile payment transactions already total $240 billion annually, but that's just the tip of the iceberg. Juniper Research reports that the market will grow 2x to 3x in the next five years. By 2013, sales of NFC-equipped phones will exceed $75 billion, with one in five cell phones worldwide using NFC technology. By 2015, the value of all mobile money transactions is expected to reach $670 billion. Digital goods will make up nearly 40 percent of this market. Asia, Western Europe and North America will be responsible for 75 percent of all mobile payment transactions.
  • The race is on between mobile technology companies to get their devices to market, but who will be the dominant provider in the mobile payment space? The top contenders: Google Wallet, ISIS, Visa Wallet and Serve by American Express.
  • Google Wallet, which is the premiere platform for Android phone users, will sync with Google Offers, allowing users to take coupons and savings with them as they shop.
  • ISIS, founded as a coalition between AT&T, Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile, is working on a mobile wallet system that could store multiple credit and debit cards and allow users to pay with any of them.
  • Visa Wallet, which will run on most smart devices, is expected to handle multiple cards and payment options through many financial networks.
  • Serve by American Express will primarily run on the Payfone, a mobile-commerce centered device backed by Amex, and will allow users to send money securely between two devices.
  • How near field communication (NFC) works: NFC allows for a simple data exchange between two devices by way of a physical touch; NFC requires an initiator and a target; the initiator generates a radio frequency (RF) field with a range of about four centimeters; the target picks up the RF field and receives the data it contains.

Check out more Infographics on the Technology Channel.


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Nicholas Jackson is a former associate editor at The Atlantic.

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