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Tuesday, 10 October, 2000, 14:51 GMT 15:51 UK
Reverse charge your web shopping
Phone BBC
Pay for a ringtone just by browsing a wap site
By BBC News Online internet reporter Mark Ward

Spending money on the internet is now as easy as making a phone call.

British technology company Dialogue has found a way to let people spend money via a mobile using reverse charge calls.

Initially the service is being used to let people buy new ringtones for their phones, but Dialogue is planning to extend it to let people buy almost anything.

The company claims the convenience of the payment system will boost the take up of mobile internet services, and let people without credit cards spend online too.

Convenience calls

Systems that let people spend money online or via their wap (Wireless Application Protocol) phone are proliferating, but most of them require shoppers to own a credit card, or spend time typing in identification numbers and passwords.

Now Sheffield-based Dialogue has found a way for people to pay for services on wap sites that works by reversing the charges of the call.

Wap turns a phone into a tiny web browser and lets a user surf modified websites.

Sites using the system find out the phone number of the shopper using the caller ID. Then they simply reverse the charge for whatever the shopper wants to buy and the payment is added to the caller's bill.

Extended service

The system even works with pre-paid mobile phones by taking a bite out of the credit stored on the phone.

"We wanted to find a way that meant people didn't have to key in lots of text information," said Hugh Spear, operations director at Dialogue. "This is very convenient and there are a lot of ways that it can be extended."

The first wapsite to use the service is MobileBone which is selling ringtones for 1 by reverse charge.

Despite its convenience, the service does have its limitations. It is currently only available through some phones such as the Nokia 7110 or the Ericsson 320, or via Vodafone's wap portal Vizzavi.

Dialogue says BT Cellnet and other networks will be added soon and it is working to ensure that other wap phones, such as the Mitsubishi Trium and the Ericsson R380, can use it too.

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