Taking steps toward mobile cash

Rushed for time last month, Gerhard Romen jumped on a departing tram in Frankfurt and waved his Nokia cellphone across an electronic reader at the door.The transit operator, Rhein-Main-Verkehrsbund, instantly charged the €2.20, or $3.48, fare to Romen’s bank account in Helsinki.The transaction was made possible by mobile payment – a form of cashless consumption that uses a technology called near-field communication, which sends encoded payment data over distances of less than 10 centimeters, or about 4 inches. Romen, the director of near-field communications at Nokia, the largest cellphone maker in the world, said mobile money had the potential to eventually replace many kinds of cash payments.

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