There's been a lot of talk lately about Near Field Communication (NFC) technology and its ability to turn your phone into a virtual credit card, or potentially even allow you to use other payment providers as through they were a credit card. But the problem is this only applies to you if you have a certain phone (not the iPhone), you bank at certain financial institutions, and you live in certain areas of the country.
Those limitations will be overcome in time, assuming NFC really takes off as many are expecting it to. But in the mean time, how can iPhone users start taking advantage of mobile payments? With Geode, a new product from Massachusetts startup iCache. The company has created a special iPhone case that doubles as a credit card. Here's how it works - with a special dongle, users are able to transfer all their credit cards to Geode, allowing you to have that data anywhere you are, as long as you have your iPhone.
Then, at the point of sale, if you want to use any of those credit cards, you open the app, choose which card you want, and then the included Geode card will be temporarily authenticated with the same magnetic information as your real credit card. It's pretty cool, and even if you drop it, it can be instantly deactivated, and you'll still have the real credit card at home. If you lose your phone, that's also no worry because the program requires a biometric credential before it can be used. Geode can also store barcoded cards for customer loyalty programs or gift cards, which can be scanned by any barcode reader. It's a pretty neat alternative to the hardware-specific NFC plans that are currently out there.