Sprint to offer mobile wallet system for cell phones

Sprint Nextel subscribers will be able to link their credit cards and other traditional payment methods to a mobile purchasing system coming next month.

CEO Dan Hesse announced the Sprint Mobile Wallet during a keynote address on Wednesday evening at the carrier's annual developer conference in Santa Clara, California. Customers initially will be able to download the application from the Sprint Zone support site, and beginning next year, it will be preloaded on many new Sprint handsets, according to the company.

Users will be able to link Visa, MasterCard, American Express, PayPal, Amazon Payments and other accounts to the mobile wallet and then authorize a purchase with those accounts by entering a PIN (personal identification number) and choosing an account to use. The same PIN would cover all the customer's payment accounts. Payments will be processed by CardinalCommerce, which many merchants already use for online payments, Hesse said. SkyMall, Gameloft and Namco have already agreed to accept the Sprint Mobile Wallet, according to Sprint.

The mobile wallet will make it easier for developers to add a payment system to their mobile apps, Hesse said.

Sprint subscribers with an Everything Data plan will be able to use the mobile wallet at no additional charge, Sprint said.

Also on Wednesday, Hesse announced that Sprint will give application developers access to voice and messaging functions on Sprint devices. This will allow them, for example, to offer in-game calling and messaging on a mobile game app, he said. This type of access to voice and messaging functions was not previously available and typically is not offered by carriers, Hesse said.

Sprint, the third-largest mobile operator in the U.S., has made news with several other announcements at the conference this week, including a program to help developers create browser-based apps and a portal that will let enterprises or service providers remotely manage wireless M2M (machine-to-machine) devices in the field.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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