updated 02:42 pm EDT, Thu September 27, 2012
Three-month experiment under
Bank of America has begun testing a new mobile payment system using iPhones and Android phones, Reuters reports. The technology was developed by a company called Paydiant, and unlike a previous trial, doesn't depend on phones and stores being equipped with NFC technology. Instead payment card data is stored on a server, and when a person goes to pay, they load an app that scans a QR code displayed at a register. Five merchants in Charlotte, North Carolina are known to be participating, but Paydiant has refused to name any other parties involved in the trial. Only BoA workers are able to use the system at the moment.
The program is said to have started last week, and is scheduled to last for three months. Only newer phones are being supported, though it's unclear what kind of requirements are involved. Bank of America is also declining to comment on whether it's still considering NFC, except to say that it's continuing to test and monitor the marketplace.
Some Android phones already include NFC hardware, such as the flagship Galaxy Nexus. The technology still isn't widespread though, and is completely missing from Apple's iPhone lineup. Both the 4S and 5 were at various times expected to get NFC chips; so far, though, the closest the company has come to supporting mobile payments is Passbook, a new ticketing/coupon app built into iOS 6.