Cingular lets you pay via cell phone; tipping via text message coming soon?

Pay at the Pump is so yesterday. I want buying things to be so easy that I don't even have to pull out my wallet. Apparently Cingular and MasterCard have been reading my mind (I knew that magnetic stripe had a dual purpose), because they're launching a trial program for paying via cell phone at stores in New York City.

Say you're out buying some sweet holiday gifts. If the retailer you're at is set up for MasterCard's PayPass (which lets you just tap your card to the machine instead of sliding and signing) and your phone is equipped with Near Field Communication (NFC), all you'd have to do is tap one button on your cell and you're done. Yeah, making you pull out a phone instead of a credit card isn't exactly jacking up the convenience factor, but the "Tap n' Go" method gives you the option of leaving the card at home. Then again, it's one more reason to panic when you leave your mobile in a cab.

If you have a PayPass MasterCard, are a Cingular customer, and own a cell phone with NFC, you're all set up for this; head over to the trial site to sign up and maybe they'll pick you for the trial, which is also backed by Nokia and Citigroup. After all, until Motorola's M-Wallet program takes off, it's the only pay-by-cell game in town.

MasterCard NYC Mobile Trial, via Ministry of Tech