With NFC wireless payment technology taking its sweet time to integrate itself into anything useful, the market is wide open for some clever new system to save us all from the hassle of having to carry around and use credit cards to pay for stuff. One company has hit on a way to make payments without any fancy hardware, using music only machines can hear.
The big obstacle to the whole near-field communications (NFC) payment scheme that aims to use your cellphone as a credit card is that it requires specialized hardware, meaning that handset makers have to commit to building it into their phones for NFC to gain any traction at all. It's a sort of dinosaur-and-egg problem, which is why NFC hasn't happened yet.
A startup called Naratte has come up with a clever way around this using ultrasonic sounds to securely transmit information like credit card numbers at short range. The solution is almost entirely software dependent, since all that's necessary is a speaker and a microphone. It takes less than a second for a phone to transmit and ultrasonic ID code to a receiver, and after the connection is made, the same technique can be used to exchange payments or contact info or anything else. It's easy, it's secure (or so they say), and all it takes is a special app and a phone that's capable of playing back MP3s.
Paypal has reportedly expressed interest in this technology, and Naratte is reportedly in talks with cellphone companies worldwide. There's still one thing that's missing here, though: the system obviously needs some kind of lamely random Web 2.0ish word to describe itself. How about, "Zoosh?" Yeah, that makes no sense, perfect.