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The growing number of mobile-payment applications for smartphones could provide a big boost to mobile payments, says Bruce Cundiff, director of payments research and consulting at Javelin Strategy & Research Inc. "It's a big deal and could certainly extend the reach and broaden the participation in mobile payments," Cundiff tells CardLine sister publication Cards&Payments. In an April 2008 survey Javelin conducted with 2,350 consumers, 9% of participants said they used smartphones such as Apple Inc.'s iPhone and Research in Motion Inc.'s BlackBerry Storm. This April, 17% of 2,779 survey participants said they used smartphones. "That is a key driver," Cundiff says. "One of the reasons that mobile payments misfired nine or 10 years ago is that you didn't have a critical mass of consumers that had viable (mobile) devices. Now you have willing and able participants who are going to download an application." What is less clear is how payments enabled by applications downloaded to smartphones might improve the prospects for contactless payments enabled at points of sale by Near Field Communication chips in mobile phones or other devices, Cundiff adds. "I still think Apple's going to be the first company to move on the handset side of things, which will mean putting an NFC chip in the next generation of iPhone," he says. "But I'm kind of hazy on whether there's interest" in that from consumers and merchants.

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