Payments News dropped me a note last week about Microsoft tags.
The basic idea is that you snap a picture of a tag using your mobile camera, and it then automatically links to the URL that the tag represents.
If you want to try it, snap a picture of the tag below which should link you to this blog:
If you have any difficulties, here's the details from Microsoft that explains how this works:
"Microsoft Tags are small,
colorful codes that can be printed, stuck, or displayed just about anywhere. When you
snap a Tag with the camera on your internet-enabled phone, additional information or
experiences are automatically opened on your phone. There is no fumbling with URLs or
texting short codes. Microsoft Tags can make product packages, posters, print-based
ads, magazine articles, exhibit signage, billboards, storefronts, business card, or
just about anything else, interactive.
"Q. How does Microsoft Tag work?
"The Microsoft Tag Reader uses your mobile phone’s camera to capture a Tag. On some phones, you merely need to aim your camera at the Tag. On other phones, you’ll aim and then click.
The Tag is decoded, and the action associated with the Tag, such as opening your phone’s browser and displaying a specific web page, takes place. Microsoft Tag requires an Internet connection to work, and normal data charges apply.
"Q. What type of phones will Tag work with?
"The Microsoft Tag Reader is available for most smartphones and many feature phones. It is available on Windows Mobile, J2ME, iPhone, Blackberry, and Symbian S60 phones. Of course, your phone needs a camera and it must have Internet-access."
There's loads more about the tag over at Microsoft's website.
The reason I'm adding to the alert on this, is that this potentially offers a revolution for Microsoft into the payments world.
For example, since 2004, the Japanese have been using their cameraphones to get discounts and access to services, including payments, through these sorts of tags. For example, here's a story about Amazon Japan that illustrates.
These are actually Quick Response (QR) Codes, invented by Japanese firm Denso-Wave back in 1994.
So we have a possible new way of paying using mobile that is quick, easy and simple, and accessible for over 100 million mobile users today.
What intrigues me is why would Microsoft get into the QR Code space unless they want to be the standard for this? And, if they do become the standard, have they inadvertently created the new de facto standard for mobile payments?
I wonder …