Is your cell phone about to swallow your wallet?

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The Economist reports that NTT DoCoMo, Japan’s top mobile operator, is embedding credit cards into the wireless chips of cell phones:

It believes the next big thing is using phones to pay for things, by embedding a credit card into a wireless chip built into each handset.

But Kenya was first, say the BBC:

A new service allowing Safaricom subscribers to buy prepaid phone cards [enables] them to transfer any selected amount of surplus minutes to other subscribers, using text messaging. You can pay a supplier with it, or even create a little bank of phone call credits to sell to others. What Michael Joseph has actually done is to create a new currency --a cyber currency that can be sent anywhere in the country at the press of a button, without needing a bank account or incurring high bank charges.

“Empowering the poor” and slaying inflation – two birds with one stone.

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