Samsung to Embed Smartphones with ‘Universal’ Barcode-Transmitting Technology (March 18, 2013)
March 18, 2013
Samsung’s plan to embed Mobeam Inc.’s new light-pulse technology into its latest generation of smartphones could provide a quicker route to connecting consumers’ handsets with millions of retailers’ existing POS scanners than some other methods, including NFC, some experts suggest. The South Korean phone maker last week said the new Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone, due at the end of April, will be the first to include Mobeam’s technology, which converts barcode data into a series of light pulses that any retail scanner can decipher. San Francisco-based Mobeam said “the vast majority” of existing POS scanners cannot read traditional barcodes because of the reflective screens on most smartphones. Mobeam’s light-based signals convert coupons, loyalty cards and gift cards into barcodes readable by scanners all merchants use today, the company said. Mobeam’s technology, deployed so far for redeeming coupons, “will also work with various forms of payment,” Maria Donner, Mobeam’s chief operating officer, tells Paybefore. Mobeam is in talks with other major handset manufacturers, she adds.
A growing number of retailers including Starbucks Corp. and Dunkin’ Brands use barcodes to enable consumer payments with handsets at the POS through mobile payment apps. “The barcode-projecting technology is very interesting,” Gil Luria, managing director with Los Angeles-based Wedbush Securities, tells Paybefore. “There is a real need for mobile wallets to have backward-compatible technology and this seems to address a lot of scenarios in which a barcode scanner already exists. If adopted more broadly this technology might lessen the urgency for NFC and push its rollout even further out.”
NFC payment technology, which requires both hardware and software changes at the POS, is also moving forward after delays. Visa Inc. last month announced a deal with Samsung in which all new Samsung NFC phones will include Visa’s payWave contactless payment technology.