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Swiss University Sends Consumers to Farmer Markets with Mobile Funds

The University of Applied Sciences in Northwest Switzerland is involved in a project to give shoppers the ability to use a mobile phone to handle ordering and paying of goods at local farmers markets. Eighty customers in the Zurich region will be equipped with near field communication-enabled mobile phones for the project. NFC is a short-range communication mechanism.

Since farmers in this type of market frequently don't have the usual point of sale infrastructure, the mobile phone will serve as the electronic shopping basket. The shopper can touch a price tag, on which an NFC tags stores the item and price information. A shopping basket application on the phone totals the prices, and the customer can touch to the "checkout" tag to initiate an electronic payment.

The initiative will also enable users to gain access to the farmer's shop 24 hours a day by opening a door-lock cylinder via their mobile phones.

The project involves multiple participants, including companies that specialize in NFC-applications, SMS communications, mobile transactions, the secure linking of mobile-phone purchases to Visa and MasterCard credit cards, and the development of contactless smart card technology and access control. The university is responsible for the technical setup of the mobile phones for the scientific evaluation of the user experience with the project. The test is expected to last for several months.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at dian@dischaffhauser.com or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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