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Bank of America trial pay with mobile technology

27 September 2012

Bank of America Corp is trialing a technology that allows a customer to pay at a store by simply scanning an image with an iPhone or Android smartphone. 

The scheme is being tested in Charlotte, North Carolina, where the second-largest U.S. bank is headquartered. 

Global mobile payments, which the consulting firm Gartner expects to exceed $171 billion this year. 

Bank of America and other banks already rake in hundreds of millions of dollars in fees for managing payments, making it important for them to come up with the new way for people to pay their bills. 

In the trial, Bank of America has partnered with Paydiant, a startup that has developed a technology to allow such mobile payments. It doesn't require new phones or hardware for merchants. 

Bank of America have experimented with Near Field Communication technology in the past, in which a chip installed in a phone transmits a radio signal when it is waved or tapped at a device at the cash register. 

Bank of America launched its pilot last week at five merchants in Charlotte. The test will last three months and only the bank's employees have access to the program. They can use newer iPhones and phones that use the Android operating system. 

Burke declined to comment on whether the bank is still considering using NFC technology but said it continues to test and monitor the marketplace. That technology suffered a setback this month when Apple did not embed NFC chips in its iPhone 5. 

In the bank's NFC trials, customers stored their payment information digitally in a secure area on their phone and then paid at a merchant who kept a device to read the signal from the phone. In the latest test, customers store their payment cards on a computer server and when they pay, they use an application on their phone that scans a Quick Response code displayed at the register. 

Paydiant is currently running tests with five banks and financial services companies, said Chris Gardner, one of the company's founders. He declined to name the other participants. 

The company's technology also allows its customers to control the payment process, rather than acting as another intermediary like Visa or MasterCard , he said. 

In the Bank of America trial, Gardner said, one restaurant is using codes printed on receipts, allowing customers to pay at their table and leave. 

Paydiant was founded in 2010. It raised $7.6 million in venture capital funding in February 2011, followed by $12 million in July. 

The company makes money from a combination of small transaction fees, user fees or revenue from advertisements and offers, Gardner said. Its partners can also generate revenue from the service.


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