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HolidayBuyer's Guide

Payment, PayPal, and Palo Alto

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Bling console

U.S. residents may not be able to pay for cab fare by swiping their mobile phone, but in some shops in Palo Alto, CA, you can buy your lunch.

We field-tested Bling Nation's NFC-chipped BlingTag, a point-of-sale alternative to credit and debit cards.

Caption by / Photo by CNET

Unlike peer-to-peer mobile payment transfers, Bling Nation's approach is all hardware, using the phone's physical form as a conduit for the NFC (near field communication) chip that talks to the merchant's payment console.

Caption by / Photo by CNET

Paying for a product at a participating retailer entails the cashier entering your phone number, you receiving a text, and the cashier entering that two-digit pin into the console. You'll receive a receipt and another confirmation message about your purchase. In the meantime, Bling Nation deducts your debit from your PayPal account.

The NFC radio signals that get the payment terminal and your BlingTag talking are encrypted and constantly changing, unlike static security codes baked into plastic credit and debit cards. Removing the BlingTag sticker damages the antenna, a security precaution.

Read more in our hands-on field test.

Caption by / Photo by CNET
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