Near-field communication gained traction recently as more companies announced new programs and partnerships to enable users to make payments using mobile devices.Rate This Article:Poor Best E-mail Print PDF VersionCompanies are exploring near-field communication technology to spur mobile payments using smartphones. While mainstream adoption is still years away, several recent announcements show that the idea is gaining traction despite lingering security concerns.Research in Motion partnered with Spanish telecommunications giant Telefonica to roll out a pilot program that would allow employees to make electronic payments and gain physical access to their workplace using their BlackBerry smartphones, RIM announced Nov. 23. Under the pilot, the 350 Telefonica employees will also get automatic account balances and transaction confirmations directly from their banks after making a payment.The process is similar to other contactless payments in the market, such as MasterCards PayPass, where consumers just wave their credit card in front of the reader. Startups such as Square are also rolling out services that would allow smartphones to accept payments.”We are getting ever closer to the point where our customers will be able to take the contents of their wallets and put them on their mobiles,” said Matthew Key, CEO of Telefonica Digital.Just last week, Google announced it will phase out the Google Checkout payment platform in favor of the new Google Wallet, a U.S.-only payment service, it launched in September. With the Google Wallet application, users launch the application on their smartphones to activate the near-field communication NFC antenna and wave the phone near a payment sensor. The application wirelessly debits funds from linked credit cards. It can also be used for online purchases.