Mobile Payment

DEFINITION of 'Mobile Payment'

Money rendered for a product or service through a portable electronic device such as a cell phone, smartphone or PDA. Mobile payment technology can also be used to send money to friends or family members.

Mobile payments first became popular in Asia and Europe before becoming more common in the United States and Canada. They can be sent (most popularly) by text message, by passing a smartphone screen displaying a special barcode under a store's barcode scanner or by using a phone to take a photo of a check and sending it. The cost of the purchase may be added to the consumer's phone bill or paid by credit or debit card.

BREAKING DOWN 'Mobile Payment'

In the late 2000s, public radio programs such as This American Life made use of mobile payment technology to collect donations from listeners. By texting a particular code given by the radio program to an assigned number, the listener is able to make a donation of a preset amount. That amount is added to the listener's phone bill.