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Samsung mobile phones look set to double as m-wallets as the mobile phone manufacturer signs a Near Field Communication chip deal with Philips.

Through the use of Near Field Communication (NFC), Samsung mobile phones will be transformed into multi-functional devices from which users can conduct secure m-payment transactions, gain access to public transport and buildings or download event tickets, the company claims.

"Joining forces with Philips for the further development of NFC-enabled devices is part of Samsung's commitment to change the way information and services are paid for, distributed and accessed by all consumers," said JK Shin, senior vice president of the research and development team at Samsung.

NFC is a type of wireless technology that allows devices to exchange small amounts of data across short distances - approximately four inches. Devices with in-built NFC can facilitate m-payments, simply by holding the devices close to each other. Users with multiple NFC-enabled devices, such as laptops, handheld computers, digital cameras, or mobile phones, can store personal payment details on each machine and all NFC-enabled devices are able to interact, allowing for quick and easy exchanges of money between individuals.

Samsung is the second major mobile manufacturer to sign up with Philips; Nokia is aiming to release its range of NFC-enabled mobile phones by the end of 2004. By 2009, around half of the world's mobile phones will feature NFC chips, according to analysts.

Mobile phones will be the first of many consumer products to embrace NFC technology. It is likely that consumers will soon see TVs and PCs equipped with NFC chips, enabling consumers to view images on from their mobile phones on their TVs, for example.

In September 2002 Philips formed a strategic alliance with Sony to co-ordinate on the development of NFC technology. Philips uses NFC in its Mifare contactless smartcard and Sony has its own FeliCa contactless NFC smartcard. Together, the companies are better able to deal with issues such as security and future product development.

In March 2004 Philips, Sony and Nokia linked up to form the NFC Forum with the aim of promoting common standards of the technology and ensuring compatibility between devices and services. The forum will also encourage other companies to adopt the technology.

© ENN

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