Future Credit Card Transactions Will Go Wireless

The Cutter Technology Council predicts that approximately one-quarter of all credit card transactions will occur over the wireless Web (m-commerce) within the next six or eight years. That represents more than US $580 billion in m-commerce transactions by the year 2008.

"Just assume that your cell phone, personal digital assistant, or pager replaces your credit cards," the Council explains. "Worldwide, the credit card industry logs an annual volume in excess of $2.3 trillion in transactions. Because 'beaming' technology is so much less expensive for merchants than traditional technologies, one-quarter of all credit card traffic will move to the m-sector."

Using your cell phone to pay for purchases won't be the only driving force behind the wireless Web. The other significant ones are e-mail and instant messaging. Cell phone users in Europe and Japan are already using their phones for instant messaging.

However, the conversion to a wireless Web world won't happen overnight. Cutter Technology Council Fellow Ken Orr lists six major concerns facing the wireless Web: bandwidth, coverage, standards, customer needs, security, privacy.

Nevertheless, organizations need to focus now on how they are going to support the wireless Web. The Council recommends the following actions:

1. Put together a wireless Web planning team.

2. Start building wireless applications now.

3. Send a fact-finding team abroad (Japan, Finland).

4. Learn about the technology.

5. Identify wireless Web targets of opportunity.

6. Educate management.

"The wireless Web is not here today. It won't be here tomorrow or the next day. There are lots of things, some of them quite expensive, that still have to be done," Orr concludes. "But the wireless Web won't take 20 or even 10 years to change the world. It will happen fast because a great deal of the world already has the base technology in their hands -- or pockets -- or purses."

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