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RFID-Enabled Phone Skins for Mobile Payments

Mobile Payment Skins is embedding RFID inlays into the cell phone skins it offers, providing a new, cashless way to pay for goods.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor
Jul 06, 2009Mobile Payment Skins, a new company based in Knoxville, Tenn., believes it has found a viable business model that will prove popular among consumers, while also helping to foster the adoption of mobile payment options using radio frequency identification.

The company will begin issuing consumers personalized vinyl mobile phone wraps—also known as skins—that contain an RFID inlay, which can be used to process payment transactions. Consumers will utilize the skins to pay for goods at merchants offering RFID-based (contactless) payments using specialized, RFID-enabled point-of-sale terminals. The RFID inlay embedded in the skin is a passive, high-frequency (HF) 13.56 MHz tag that follows the ISO 14443-B air interface protocol and is certified for payment card applications. It is the same type of inlay used in RFID-enabled credit and debit cards issued by Visa, MasterCard and American Express.

While Mobile Payment Skins will initially offer skins for making payments from prepaid accounts, the firm's co-founder, Doug Yeager, says its longer-term goal is to collaborate with credit card companies, as well as banks that issue credit and debit cards. He hopes these parties will use the skins to provide cardholders with a new, convenient form factor for payments, by linking the inlays to credit or debit payment accounts.

The idea to embed RFID inlays in stickers is not new. This past spring, MasterCard announced it is offering prepaid PayPass RFID-enabled payment cards in a sticker form factor, which cardholders can stick to their phones. And some merchants, including Dairy Queen and Sheetz, have begun offering RFID-enabled stickers to their customers.

Dairy Queen's program (see Dairy Queen Serves Up Personal Discounts With RFID) enables patrons to use the stickers to redeem coupons, while the sticker from Sheetz, known as the GO-Tag, is linked to a prepaid account. But Mobile Payment Skins' Phoolah would be the first such platform to offer stickers linked to credit or debit accounts.

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