Beyond NFC and QR, the next m-payment acronym might be BLE

March 19, 2013 | by James Wester

It doesn't look like we're getting any closer to narrowing down the technologies that will make mobile payments possible.

According to the Frontline blog, Microsoft is toying with mobile payments using a combination of Bluetooth low energy and gaming technology. BLE is a newer specification for the same Bluetooth technology that connects headphones and speakers, but it's intended for use with devices that don't require a lot of energy and data sent back and forth. In tests run by Microsoft, BLE identifies the user's phone and places that phone within a store.

To identify the specific user at the point of sale, Microsoft uses facial recognition technology from its Kinect gaming system. Think of it as Square Wallet meets XboX.

The goal of the payment method, which Micorsoft said it has tested at cafeterias on its own campus as well as a coffee stand at a tech conference, is to make mobile payments seamless, replicating the ability of Square Wallet to transact a payment without a consumer even reaching for his phone, while also helping merchants deal with multiple wallet users in a single store.

For instance, imagine everyone using Square Wallet, which uses a consumer's phone to place the shopper in a certain store, in a Walmart on Black Friday. Determining who is who out of hundreds of shoppers would be a retail associate's worst nightmare. Augmenting the system with Kinect would help solve that problem.

According to the story, the two tests worked well, though they only encountered 274 customers making 705 purchases. And the purchases were made using key fobs, not actual phones.

Still, it shows that it's too soon to restrict the discussions on mobile payments to NFC or QR codes.

Read more about contactless/NFC technologies.

Topics: Contactless / NFC , Mobile Apps , POS , Technology Providers

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