I am amused every time that I hear a new ‘M-Commerce’ prediction like ‘Cellular Phones May Replace Wallets‘. In this case it’s a bank in Japan that is developing a system to allow the user to store their ‘identity’ in their cellphone and then transmit via IrDA it to an ATM cash machine without carrying a seperate card. This would seem to be a natural extension of c-Mode, a specially equipped Coca-Cola vending machine that can scan a bar-code off of the cellphone screen in order to charge that cool drink to your phone bill.
But are these mearly solutions looking for a problem? Sure, I think that we’ve all had that time when we did not have enough change for a soda. I’m sure that there are people who wouldn’t mind going through the seven-step process to charge everything to their phone bill (and how many parents would suddenly shrink at the thought of letting their child have a cellphone!)
But are we really making anything more convienent? Do you want your ‘electronic identity’ stored in a device that’s easy to leave on the restaurant table or in the train car? Sure there can be passwords and other means of identification, but then how have we made it easier exactly?
Electronic payments may very well eventually end the role of paper currency and coin in the not-too-distant future, and then maybe we can talk about where the electronic information is stored.

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