The whole idea here is that the consumer could be in a store looking at merchandise and not only do research on the product using their mobile device, but also check inventory and make payment for the product (by a charge to their cell phone bill). Other possibilities include small credit card terminals that small merchants could plug into their own mobile device in order to run a customer's credit card (See, Twitter Co-Founder Tackles Mobile Payments). Pretty cool and technically beyond my expertise (See, Discover: Contactless Payment Sticker Users Inadvertently Crippling Performance). But . . . payments wise, this presents the same (and more) problems than consumers just paying at the register with their credit or debit cards. Surely, there are issues about how well the application transfers money and what to do about errors. One would hate to be walking through Best Buy with your phone in your pocket and accidentally purchase several televisions. Moreover, the risk of credit card data being misused or misappropriated is already a problem without the involvement of mobile devices. Poor reliability and speed follow along as potential pitfalls.
Apparently, Paypal, Google and Amazon already have mobile payments capability, so mobile payments appear to be upon us. Mobile payments companies are beginning to receive funding for their ventures, so this will be an area to watch develop (Mobile Payments Startup Boku Lands $25 million). Always a big question regarding payment methods is the cost associated with its use and disclosure to consumers. For me, it will be a while before I pay using my phone.