03/29/2011 06:07 pm ET | Updated Jun 14, 2012

Do You Want Your Cell Phone to Act as a Credit Card?


Imagine your cell phone acting as a credit card. What races through your mind: fantastic or scary? According to the Wall Street Journal, the technology is being developed in the apps.

Google Inc. is teaming up with MasterCard Inc. and Citigroup Inc. to embed technology in Android mobile devices that would allow consumers to make purchases by waving their smartphones in front of a small reader at the checkout counter.

The idea, instigated by VeriFone Systems Inc., is to turn your cell phone into an electronic credit card wallet.

"A phone is a lot smarter than a card," said Doug Bergeron, VeriFone's chief executive, in an interview. "It opens the door to a rich experience at the point of sale that retailers really covet."

I'm not paranoid, but isn't this Google-backed system a little Big-Brother-creepy? (I refer to the George Orwell book and not the reality TV show.)

Here some app for for thought:

1) The VeriFone device will turn you into a walking litmus test for spending behavior. Unlike some other forms of advertising, the system would allow Google to generate ads targeted by
locales and past purchases.

2) Remember what happened with hummus purchases at Safeway? After 9/11, the government concocted a plan to chart excessive hummus purchases at Safeway -- being all terrorists love hummus.

3) Having your credit cards activated by an app detaches you from spending in the same way FarmVille detaches you from reality.

4) It's easier to steal a cell phone than a credit card -- imagine the new breed of credit card criminal hierarchy that will be created; with foot soldiers doing the street level theft and hackers extracting the credit card information.