Mobile purchasing systems based on NFC have a way to go before they become ubiquitous, but other types of mobile payments already here. A great example is the Starbucks app that can be used as a virtual reload-able gift card. When you want to pay with the card, a barista scans a code on your iPhone’s screen.
Starbucks may have made this technology a part of every day life for millions of people, but it isn’t the only company to do. Some airlines offer a virtual boarding pass as part of mobile check-in features.
The same iPhone/smartphone screen as digital token approach may soon extend to your commute as well as your morning coffee or air travel. A pilot project in Boston plans to bring the same NFC-less mobile payment technology to the city’s commuter rail service.