Paper, Plastic . . . or Mobile?

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How consumers pay for things is changing.  Pretty soon exasperated parents may start reminding kids that “mobile payments don’t grow on trees.” And if there’s a remake of “Jerry McGuire,” the sports agent may yell to his client “Show me the mobile payment!”

On April 26, 2012, the FTC is hosting a Paper, Plastic . . . or Mobile, a workshop to examine the use of mobile payments in the marketplace and how this emerging technology affects consumers.  Who will be there? Consumer advocates, industry representatives, government people, and technologists, among others. The workshop — which is free and open to the public — will be held at the FTC’s Conference Center, 601 New Jersey Avenue, N.W., in Washington, DC.

What’s on the table?

► What technologies are used to make mobile payments and how are the technologies funded (e.g., credit card, debit card, phone bill, prepaid card, gift card, etc.)?

► Which technologies are people using in the U.S. now and which are they likely to use in the near future?

► What are the risks of financial losses related to mobile payments vs. other forms of payment?  What recourse do people have against fraudulent, unauthorized, and inaccurate charges?  Do consumers understand the risks?  Do they get disclosures about potential risks and any legal protections they might have?

► When people use a mobile payment service, what information is collected, by whom, and why?  Are these data collection practices disclosed to consumers?  Is the data protected?

► How have mobile payment technologies been implemented in other countries, and with what success?  What, if any, consumer protection issues have they faced, and how have they dealt with them?

► What steps should government and industry members take to protect consumers who use mobile payment services?

To help us prepare for the workshop, we welcome your feedback, including comments, research, surveys, and academic papers. Save a step by filing online.

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