Barcelona - Paying with a cellphone is gradually become a reality for consumers, with banks, telecommunications operators and internet players all jumping in to offer payment options.
But while one group is pushing for a system of payment through an electronic wallet hosted on the web, another is investing in an infrastructure that would allow customers to pay by swiping their phones against a reader.
The latter, championed by internet giant Google and telecoms operators like Orange and Vodafone, is made possible by so-called Near Field Communication technology.
It requires buyers to have specially equipped telephones, while sellers need to have new payment terminals installed. Yet it is the method preferred by both operators and banks, and particularly appears destined for developed countries.
At the world's biggest mobile show in Barcelona in the past week, several handset makers previewed telephones compatible with NFC, while chip makers Gemalto, INSIDE Secure and STMicroelectronics all demonstrated their solutions for mobile phone payment.
However, "despite the large scale trials and some other announcements, we are far from a massive utilisation by consumers, neither are we seeing deployment on an industrial scale among sellers", lamented Patrick Flamant, manager at internet payment operator Ogone.
Analysts say that payment by NFC telephones may be eclipsed by other methods that consumers find more handy - public transport cards, identification badges or store cards.
"For me, NFC will never take off because I believe more in payment solutions via social networks - Facebook credit or PayPal," said Gilles Blanc, Benchmark group's research director.
Indeed, internet payment specialist PayPal already has 106 million active online users, and mobile payment is already a reality with $4bn in transactions made in 2011 and $7bn worth expected in 2012.