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Mobile Payments

US National Retail Federation urges caution in move towards mobile payments

Monday 30 April 2012 | 08:13 AM CET

The National Retail Federation (NRF) has urged the US Federal Trade Commission to move cautiously in establishing regulations for mobile payments and said any rules that are adopted should parallel those for the underlying form of payment and not be specific to the technology.

The NRF is the US-based global retail trade association which brings together department stores, specialty, discount, catalog, internet and independent retailers as well as chain restaurants and grocery stores.

“Mobile technology and processes are just beginning to emerge and we will not know which practices the public will like or what methods will provide new benefits until the technology begins to coalesce,” NRF Senior Vice President and General Counsel Mallory Duncan has said. “The government should not impose regulations that would forestall yet-to-be-imagined advances and innovation in order to avoid potential ‘harm’ based largely on speculation.”

Duncan further noted that a phone itself is “just a device, not a payment” and that actual payment could take place via a credit or debit card, directly from a bank account, be processed through the user’s phone bill, or be made through other means. Any privacy rules developed for mobile payments should be no more restrictive than those for the underlying form of payment, he said.

Duncan said federal officials need to address a number of issues including a definition of what constitutes a mobile payment. While the term is largely used to mean a payment made in a bricks-and-mortar store using a smartphone, officials need to decide whether a payment made for an online purchase on the same device constitutes a mobile payment, or if payments made on a portable device like an iPad tablet or a laptop computer are “mobile.”

The NRF represents the interests of retailers of all types and sizes, including chain restaurants and industry partners, from the US and more than 45 countries abroad. Retailers operate more than 3.6 million US establishments that support 42 million US working individuals.

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