Chris Nuttall Cashing in on mobile memory cards

Themobile wallet  is one of those mythical beasts of the cell phone world that elusively stays away from mass-market implementation.

However, an Oregon-based company called Tyfone has at least come up with a simple way to add the technology to millions of handsets.

With more than 60 per cent of new phones containing memory slots for users to insert cards to boost storage capacity, Tyfone has added Near Field Communication (NFC)  “u4ia” technology for contactless payments to a 1Gb MicroSD  card.

It means banks and other payments providers could offer the “SideTap” cards to customers to retrofit their phones to work with their services. Or handset owners could use the cards to handle a variety of payments.

DeviceFidelity, a Texan company, is reported to be developing a similar MicroSD product with Visa, but without the use of it as a proper memory card.

“Inside your wallet you may have a few credit cards, perhaps some gift cards or other prepaid payment cards, some money along with family photos, “says Siva Narendra, Tyfone chief technology officer.

“We designed the u4ia [pronounced euphoria] technology to work just like a real wallet… a person does not have to be tied to a single financial institution nor are they limited to where they can use u4ia technology to make payments.”

Tyfone announced today that First Data , the payment enabler for 5m merchant locations and 2,000 card issuers, would offer SideTap in the second half of the year.

Contactless payment cards using NFC are popular in areas such as mass transit where they can be passed in front of a reader as users board buses or pass through barriers. The handset version will work in the same way and in similar locations including stores and self-service restaurants.