Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/02/25/podifi/
Itsy-bitsy Wi-Fi brings pay-by-bonk to all
We don't need no stinkin' NFC
Desperate to pay-by-bonk but bored of waiting for the hardware? Then Podifi can help by providing a tiny Wi-Fi access point which turns any smartphone into a bonking wallet.
Podifi comes from 2ergo, which has spent the last couple of years trying to flog the tech as being ideal for vouchers and loyalty schemes. The payment system was announced last year but is now commercially available for those desperate to get pay-by-bonk working while we all wait for Near Field Communications to get its act together.
The technology is elegant, though the company is surprisingly tight-lipped about how it works - providing no details on its site or documentation. In fact the device - which looks like a white hockey puck and which the merchant plugs into the till, is a very-low-power Wi-Fi access point. Once the Podifi app is installed the customer waves a phone near the puck to process payments, use vouchers, and so forth.
It's not quite as good NFC, connections are slower and it lacks the secure element central to the NFC ecosystem, but it's still a nice solution for those people who are so desperate for pay-by-bonk they're not prepared to wait for NFC hardware.
Assuming such people exist.
The public will eventually adopt NFC payments, just because they'll be relentlessly pushed in that direction until they get used to the idea, but few people are actively seeking some bonking action, and those who are can buy NFC equipment off the shelf so the time for stop-gap technology is past.
Podifi will work with an iPhone, which counts in its favour, but everyone other than Apple is busy embracing an NFC ecosystem with enough technical prowess, and (more importantly) marketing money behind it to eradicate Podifi - along with Alipay's squeaking system, and PayPal's BumpPay, and the various barcode based systems which proliferate every now and then. ®