Debit cards 'could give way to mobile payments'

Australian consumers may find themselves increasingly using their smartphones as payment tools over the coming years, it has been suggested.

Lesley Parker, a finance columnist for the Sydney Morning Herald, noted that while research shows that Australians quite like the idea of ’’mobile money’’, there are also concerns about whether Australian telecommunications companies are up to the task of being "financial intermediaries".

The comments come as the Australian Communications and Media Authority looks into the potential consequences of "wave and pay" – whereby smartphones can be swiped over readers in shops and train stations to pay for goods and tickets – as well as person-to-person transfers and payments via SMS.

According to the columnist, such services are already widely available in Japan, with one estimate putting mobile payments at $70 billion globally last year.

Meanwhile, it was observed that market research from Gartner recently found that money transfers via mobiles are likely to be the most important phone application by 2012, ahead of web searches, browsing, music and instant messaging.

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The rise of mobile payment transactions may affect the decision of Aussies looking to compare debit cards and other banking options. Earlier this week, it was revealed that Australians have been much more inclined to eat out this year than they were in 2009.