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Nearer and Nearer

Nearer and Nearer
by Gary Woods

The three little letters that are dancing in the heads of retailers these days are NFC which stands for Near Field Communications a technology that enables customers to pay for items in bricks and mortar stores by tapping their phone to a retailer's PayPass reader. This NFC technology is being embraced by Google for a product they call Google Wallet and should actually be more secure than real world plastic counter parts.

To use Google Wallet with your phone you have to enter a PIN Number which remains active from 5 to 30 minutes depending on how long you choose to have it do so. If you phone's screen is off, the transmitter chip cannot be powered and stores no data thereby preventing a passing hacker from skimming your card as he walks by.

When Google Wallet works, it works really well. To use it, you just turn on the display and then tap the phone to the reader. If you haven't punched in your PIN recently, do so and tap the phone again. You don't ever need to launch the app manually. The merchant simply sees it run through their point of sales machine as any other card would, the receipt prints out and you're on your way.

The biggest challenge facing Google is to get these card readers everywhere. The readers are by no means Google Wallet specific using the same technology employed by Visa, American Express and Master Card and the card vendors themselves have long been making the push but until the hardware is deployed you can tap your phone all you want and it won't buy you anything.

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Gary Woods is the Computer Trainer for the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors. And he is a Broker/Associate at Home Realty & Investments, Inc