"Wireless handsets have become primarily means of communication, supporting ordinary phone calls, and more recently, allowing users to surf the Net while on the move.
"Soon they may be even more indispensable.
"The latest feature found in some handsets eliminate the need to carry subway tickets or bus tokens, allowing the users to pay for those modes of transportation simply by passing the handset through a scanner.
"LG TeleCom which offers the service reports selling some 50,000 T-Plus handsets that come installed with a special chip that supports this function. "The number of people who actually use the special handset instead of subway tickets and bus tokens is estimated at around 30,000," said a LG TeleCom official. The service, known as ez-Pass, is gradually catching on with people who like the convenience of having to merely pass the handset through a scanner instead of getting in the line to buy tickets and tokens, he explained.
"The user is billed at the end of the month for the number of rides he has taken and the payment can be settled through an account at Kookmin Bank or Kookmin Credit Card.
"Another service available through wireless handsets that promises to simplify paying for Internet purchases will debut next month. Hansol M.com and Korea Telecom Freetel (KTF) will start offering a payment system that allows users to settle payments for electronic and mobile commerce purchases as part of their monthly wireless phone bill.
"The billing service is provided through Mobilians, a company set up last March in which the two wireless companies each holds a 15 percent stake. Hansol M.com and KTF subscribers can opt to have the payment for purchases at e-commerce or m-commerce sites that have signed up with Mobilians to their wireless phone accounts. The process involves a simple verification procedure and the user can proceed to make the purchase on his wireless handset.
"Each time a purchase is to be made, a transaction approval number is sent to the buyer's handset via short messaging system (SMS) text message and the transaction is completed when the buyer enters the particular approval number on his handset.
"This new service does away with the need to provide additional information on the handset, such as credit card numbers, ensuring that no crucial information can leaked," said a Hansol M.com official.