People who view M-commerce (mobile commerce) as a natural extension of PC-based e-commerce are in for a shock. M-commerce will eclipse PC-based e-commerce almost from the outset. Handheld devices, typically "smart" cell phones, will become much more than another e-commerce terminal. They will become your identification authenticator, your credit card, your record keeper, your receipt file, and more.
Today, every commerce Web site we visit wants to know who we are, along with some proof such as an ID and password. We're warned not to pick obvious and easily hacked passwords. We're also warned not to use the same one for every site. We all have to figure out some way to organize our password information so we can remember what we use for each one. If we forget our password, we could forego visiting that site. Or, we might end up inconveniencing ourselves and costing the site money while we try to remember our password with the clue we included when first registering. We may also apply for a new password.
This is where biometrics—fingerprint scanning, in particular—comes in. There's the phone (something we have) and there's our fingerprint (something we are). Without that fingerprint match, the phone can be rendered useless. All of the contact information, photos, and the like are locked and inaccessible to anyone else. The simple act of scanning the fingerprint authenticates who we are, making the phone and all its features accessible, and releasing our digital signature to any e-commerce site.
This lowers the risk, and the cost, of every transaction. But more important than that, it makes users confident that they can store sensitive information on that phone, or PDA, and not worry about it falling into the wrong hands. Fingerprint-secured handheld devices will become the method of buying when we're traveling, walking, or even shopping in a brick-and-mortar store. Imagine being able to buy a soda from a vending machine without having to slip in a dollar bill because your phone wirelessly connects to the machine and establishes your identity and credit at a cost so low that everyone benefits. Well, that day isn't so far away.