Yankowski Uses CES Keynote to Demo eWallet
Carl Yankowski, Palm CEO, used his keynote address Saturday at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) to demonstrate his company's eWallet initiative. Palms can already hold photographs and eventually, Yankowski wants Palms to be able to carry a driver's license, health-care card and other personal identification documents.
He sees a future when Palm users can use the infrared port to automatically keep financial records, receive eCoupons,get automatic prompts about personally relevant entertainment or purchases, and always know the status of their loyalty programs, like airline mileage or hotel stays.
But the most important thing that goes in a wallet is money and the eWallet isn't any different.
"The handheld will be transformed into a wallet this year," said Mr. Yankowski, "and it will act as a debit card in your Palm with a secure IR connection which will replace a card swipe."
Carl Goes Shopping
During his keynote, he conducted an electronic purchase from his Palm and a retail point-of-sale terminal, choosing a car cellphone system with Hear It Again Memory, an atomic watch, and a Sony AIBO from among the products at a Sharper Image storefront on stage.
After choosing his purchases and agreeing to the price plus tax, Yankowski pointed his Palm toward the point-of-sale Ingenico terminal and activated the eWallet by pushing a short-cut button.
He then selected his payment method -- a Visa card embedded in the Palm eWallet application -- and this initiated the purchase.
Then, he entered a PIN (personal identification number) onto the handheld's screen. This act identified Mr. Yankowski and his account number securely. He tapped "OK," concluding his part of the transaction.
The Ingenico terminal received Yankowski's beam as an encrypted message, keeping it safe from misuse.
The Ingenico terminal then sent the secure information about the total purchase price and Yankowski's payment-card account number to the Sharper Image merchant account. Yankowski received a hardcopy receipt as well as a digital one.
Sharper Image received the transaction information and recorded it as revenue.
In a few weeks, Yankowski will receive his Visa bill -- including the Sharper Image purchase -- in the mail, the old-fashioned way.
"The most obvious and immediate way this Palm advancement will change people's lives is that in the future, Palm handheld users could begin to be able to beam their way quickly through checkout -- and return -- counters, using their Palm Powered devices," Mr. Yankowski said. "But in addition to paying out money for purchases, consumers can take in new services simultaneously and dynamically."
For example, buying a sweater or paying college tuition with a frequent-flyer Visa card embedded in the Palm handheld would result in an automatic entry in the person's financial management software program, and an immediate boost to his or her frequent-flyer mileage program.
Will this Catch on?
"Once a significant number of businesses adopt this IR technology, we believe consumers will grow comfortable discarding their bulky, disorganized wallets for a digital alternative that provides real two-way service," Mr. Yankowski said. "Visa, Igenico and VeriFone -- leaders in secure financial transactions -- are working closely with us to make this a reality."
At least one analyst at the Market research firm IDC believes this is the way people will make purchases in the future. "eWallet technology can offer enterprises and individual users fast and increasingly more secure wireless transactions and management," said Kevin Burden, senior analyst, smart handheld devices at IDC. "This technology is a natural extension to the already strong feature set of Palm handhelds."
When Will All This Happen?
To make these transactions happen simply and securely for consumers and retailers alike, Palm is working with Ingenico and Hewlett-Packard's VeriFone division, leading providers of credit-card payment infrastructure in Europe and the United States respectively. Igenico intends to roll out the initial pilot solution beginning today in Europe, and VeriFone intends to roll it out later this quarter in the United States.
The necessary IR receiver can be added to standard, currently installed point-of-sale terminals. In the future, this communication link could be provided using Bluetooth technology.
Palm is also collaborating with leading payment organizations, such as Visa International, to enable customer adoption and add such features as easy-to-use statements that can be viewed on a handheld.
Ingenico and VeriFone will demonstrate eWallet capabilities with their transaction terminals at Palm's booth, No. 24000, at CES.
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