RFID - You Won't Be
Able to Leave Home Without It
American Express Uses TI
Technology To Link Device To Accounts

By Crayton Harrison
The Dallas Morning News

American Express Co. is expanding a trial program that uses Texas Instruments Inc. technology to let consumers pay for products with a key chain.
In the pilot program, customers swipe their American Express key chain near a receptor at the cash register, which rings up a purchase by reading the customer's account information via radio signals. The technology is known as radio frequency identification, or RFID.
Early stages of the program have sped up transaction times and encouraged customers to spend more money, since they don't have to dig in their pockets for change, New York-based American Express said Wednesday. "All the feedback we've gotten from customers has been very good, and the merchants are getting increased throughput," reducing the time per transaction by 30 to 40 percent, said David Bonalle, American Express vice president in charge of advanced payment development.
The original pilot program began last year in an American Express employee cafeteria. The expanded trial, running in Phoenix, is open to non-American Express employees and includes the Carl's Jr., Schlotzsky's Deli, Quiznos Subs and Dairy Queen restaurant chains and Kwik Kopy Printing.
American Express is paying $2 to $3 for each key chain, a molded plastic device that contains the chip and radio transmitting equipment, made by Dallas-based TI.
That seems like a steep price per customer, but American Express executives have seen the success of Irving-based ExxonMobil Corp.'s Speedpass, a payment system that also uses RFID technology.
"We're really looking at this as an enhancement to the existing American Express product," Mr. Bonalle said. "It's a good investment for us."
American Express could also save money in the long run because RFID payments can reduce fraud, said Bill Allen, RFID marketing manager at TI. Encrypted radio signals are significantly harder to decode than magnetic stripes on credit cards, he said, so transactions with the key chains could be much safer.
American Express also views the key chain as an investment in a new market, Mr. Allen said. The financial company wants to play a part in small transactions where people normally wouldn't use a credit card, such as buying a hamburger or a pack of gum.
"It's a real opportunity for them," he said.




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