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MicroSD card will give any Android device near-field communications capabilities

by Phil Hornshaw

One of the more interesting abilities of some of the latest and greatest Android devices is their capacity for a technology called near-field communication. The tech is built into Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich for compatible devices, and it can turn smartphones into tools that can help users make instant payments at stores, among other cool features.

But even if you have an older Android device or one that doesn’t have the NFC tech baked in, you’ll still be able to enjoy NFC services thanks to a new microSD card being shown at Consumer Electronics Show 2012, as Engadget reports.

Called moneto and created by DeviceFidelity and Spring Card Systems, the microSD card contains all the necessary NFC technology that would normally go into your phone. NFC works by projecting a short-range signal that allows devices to interact with each other when they’re brought close together. Lately, NFC has been touted as a handy solution for completing monetary transactions in stores. With the new Google Wallet service, for example, you could get to the register of your favorite local store and wave your smartphone over a terminal, rather than hand over a credit card. The NFC signal transmits your credit card information, plus info for things like the store’s loyalty card, straight into the merchant’s computer system instantly. No more dealing with cards and overcrowded wallets, and the service only works short-range.

But in order to enjoy NFC capabilities, smartphones need the NFC transmitters built into their hardware. So far, Google and Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus smartphone includes NFC tech inside, but few other Android phones have adopted it yet. Using moneto allows users to get around that hurdle. In fact, the microSD card works with both Android devices and other mobile platforms, like Apple’s iOS operating system.

According to DeviceFidelity and Spring Card’s press release, moneto uses a digital wallet service called MasterCard PayPass. The chip is built into a phone case that you put on your device, so it’s not easy to lose or misplace. The chip is available to sign-up for right now at moneto.me. It costs $79.95 and purchasing it gets you $10 in digital cash to spend with MasterCard PayPass, so users can give their new NFC capabilities a go immediately.