The need in control has always been essential for the human race. We have tried to control everything around since the times of caves by having guards, fires around, walls, and other similar things. People need to know that it is possible to control everything we can reach because otherwise we cannot relax and be calm. Anxiety in this case is the most common disorder that leads to unpleasant consequences. Therefore, rather different technologies, techniques, and methods have been invented through the ages of the mankind’s development. Radio frequency identification technology provides the opportunities of hidden control in many areas – stores, dry cleaners, mobile payments, delivery services, etc.
There were no possible reasons and obstacles that would have stopped the trade at any given moment of the history of mankind. In fact, the situation has not changed much these days because people still need various goods and services, and business is still able to satisfy these needs. The only issue that should have been solved was the delivery of these goods and services to the customers. RFID is one of the most suitable technologies for delivery companies, for example, or contactless payments.
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Technology
RFID technology stands for radio frequency identification and it is “a generic term that is used to describe a system that transmits the identity (in the form of a unique serial number) of an object or person wirelessly, using radio waves.” (RFIDJournal.com 2010). The major benefit of RFID comparing with other technologies of control, like UPC bar-code technology, for example, is that it does not require contact or line of sight for communication (Inc.com 2010; Finkenzeller 2003; Glover & Bhatt 2007). In other words, the transmitter could be hidden anywhere and the reader will still receive the signal from it. It is very convenient for inventory control and theft prevention (RFIDJournal.com 2010; Inc.com 2010; Finkenzeller 2003; Glover & Bhatt 2007).
Areas of Application
RFID is used in many areas, such as manufacturing, asset tracking, supply chain management, payment systems, retailing, security and access control, and others in order to solve different common and unique business issues (Glover & Bhatt 2007). Despite the fact that it becomes more popular to use this technology for many different purposes, the main application of RFID technology is control (RFIDJournal.com 2010; Inc.com 2010; Finkenzeller 2003; Glover & Bhatt 2007).
Applications of RFID
Delivery Services – Wi-Fi vs. RFID
The companies that specialize on the delivery services use RFID extensively. Today, the most well-known companies are United Parcel Service (UPS) and Federal Express (FedEx) (FedEx 2010; Brewin 2003). These companies have been competing on the market of delivery services for years, and they have to implement new technologies into the everyday work to be on the edge of progress. This is the requirement of this business model (FedEx 2010; Brewin 2003).
Both of these companies use technical achievement of the information technology (IT) industry in order to gain a competitive advantage and provide their clients with the services of the highest quality (FedEx 2010; Brewin 2003). The latest innovations that UPS and FedEx implemented into their business processes are wireless technologies, such Wi-Fi, RFID and GPS. However, the approaches of the companies are rather different in the matter of the implementation speed (FedEx 2010; Brewin 2003). Such difference can be explained in the disperse views on the same activities of the delivery service. Nevertheless, the implementation of these technologies into operations of both companies needs to facilitate and organize the following major processes more efficiently: Pickup/delivery and packaging/sorting (FedEx 2010; Brewin 2003).
The advantages of Wi-Fi usage are rather obvious for the delivery service business: UPS and FedEx implement Wi-Fi solutions into their work to facilitate the above mentioned pickup/delivery and packaging/sorting activities. However, the approaches are rather different. FedEx usually starts to use new technologies as soon as they become economically justified for the company (FedEx 2010). UPS is more conservative in this matter. The company usually implements new technological solutions after the substantial period of their usage in other spheres and industries. UPS updates the technological base every five-seven years, depending on the speed of universalization process of the technological achievements (Brewin 2003). Therefore, today UPS has implemented 90,000 wireless devices in the field, in sorting facilities the company has 55,000 of wireless devices, and up to 9,000 of wireless access points are available at the moment.
Wireless technology allows these two companies to create the medium that provides them with such important interconnectedness in this sphere (TeachTerm.com 2010). Instant access to the corporate network and databases, granted by the wireless solutions, allows personnel on the packaging/sorting lines and pickup/delivery frontend workers to be in touch all the time. Thus, they are able to solve different issues dynamically, which increases the efficiency of work rather substantially (TeachTerm.com 2010). The decision to use Wi-Fi solutions in the everyday work of the companies of such scale and size was absolutely appropriate and wise.
However, new technological achievements are able to provide FedEx and UPS with the new functionality in two main areas of the everyday processes, as they were mentioned before (Inc.com 2010; Finkenzeller 2003; Glover & Bhatt 2007). Today, RFID technology becomes more and more popular because it facilitates routine activities and could be implemented rather easily (Inc.com 2010). The RFID tags play the role of the identification bar codes, but their main advantage is in the process of scanning (IPTS 2007; Finkenzeller 2003; Hunt, Puglia & Puglia 2007). While the usual bar codes have to be scanned by the special scanner that must be placed right over the barcode, the RFID tag must be placed near the point-of-presence (POS) to transmit the signal (Inc.com 2010). That is it. This is the whole scheme of RFID technology usage (Glover & Bhatt 2007). Such technology could substantially facilitate the process of packaging/sorting and eliminating the need in too sophisticated sorting lines (Inc.com 2010; Finkenzeller 2003).
RFID is the basic technology for mobile wallet concept implementation also. The idea of a mobile wallet is the evolutionary aftermath of the ongoing convergence of different devices and their functionality into one single device, connected to the worldwide network (Inc.com 2010; IPTS 2007; Hunt, Puglia & Puglia 2007; Glover & Bhatt 2007). What can be more convenient in a supermarket, metro or a restaurant than just giving a command in some way to one’s bank account to perform a transaction? There are no plastic cards needed, no more pieces of paper – a simple electronic wallet in the pocket, in the mobile phone (Glover & Bhatt 2007). The concept of a mobile wallet needs to be defined more precisely (Inc.com 2010; Finkenzeller 2003; Hunt, Puglia & Puglia 2007).
Firpo (2009) defines the mobile wallet as “a data repository that houses consumer data sufficient to facilitate a financial transaction from a mobile handset, and the applicable intelligence to translate an instruction from a consumer through a mobile handset/bearer/application into a message that a financial institution can use to debit or credit bank accounts or payment instruments.” In other words, this is an application in a mobile phone, single standing or WAP-based that allows users to pay for various services and goods (IPTS 2007). Mobile wallets are usually used in order to facilitate mobile payments procedures (Firpo 2009; Russell 2010).
There are different kinds of mobile payments that utilize the mobile wallet as the money storage. In the mobile proximity payments, mobile phones make payments via point-of-sale (POS) terminal (IPTS 2007; Glover & Bhatt 2007). These transactions are performed using contactless technologies, like Near Field Communication (NCR). The most obvious example is payments for the bus or metro tickets. There is no need to use cash or pay in some other way. A mobile phone equipped with radio frequency identification (RFID) chips can do it for one just being at the appropriate distance from a POS terminal (Firpo 2009; Inc.com 2010; Finkenzeller 2003; Hunt, Puglia & Puglia 2007).
Mobile remote payments are performed, while a mobile phone is used to purchase mobile-related services or pay for goods online. It can be anything, from ring tones to different goods available online. In this case, a mobile phone is used as an alternative payment channel, involving a mobile wallet as the money storage (IPTS 2007). Finally, mobile bill payments need interconnection with bank accounts to perform different transactions and refer to mobile banking services. The mobile phone plays the role of the terminal with access to one’s bank account, which can be very useful in some cases (Firpo 2009; Russell 2010).
As one can see, the initial concept of the mobile wallet tends to replace the usage of other means of storing the essence of money (IPTS 2007; Hunt, Puglia & Puglia 2007). However, it is unlikely that the mobile wallet is going to replace credit cards, at least for some time. In fact, there is no need in such replacement. The main idea of the mobile wallet implementation is to reduce cash usage and facilitate various payments that are connected with it on the everyday basis. The above mentioned metro and bus tickets, payments in the restaurants and fast-food restaurants – all these transactions could not involve real money (cash) in case of the overall implementation of mobile wallets cases (Firpo 2009; Russell 2010).
Thus, mobile wallets can be offered to use by the companies that provide customers with everyday services on a regular basis. Among such companies could be the above mentioned networks of fast-food restaurants, gas station networks, transportation companies, etc. (IPTS 2007; Hunt, Puglia & Puglia 2007). The methods of the mobile wallet usage in these cases could be different, from mobile proximity payments to mobile remote payments. The idea remains the same the facilitated payment procedure should reduce the waste of time as it happens with regular payment methods. The expenditures for the commonly used payment methods can be reduced, as well (Russell 2010; Kaneshige 2010; IPTS 2007).
A mobile wallet with RFID technology can be used to pay for taxi services, to pay fee for the roads and bridges usage, to pay for the tickets in metro, buses and other related services (Firpo 2009; Russell 2010). RFID chips provide FedEx and UPS with opportunity of automating and increasing the efficiency of the day-to-day operations. Therefore, RFID is one of the key technologies for today and future in terms of automating identification, payments, etc. (IPTS 2007). It can be concluded that RFID technology is the present and the future of monitoring and controlling techniques. It provides tremendous flexibility and numerous opportunities to obtain information from wherever interested parties could want. RFID have business, scientific, military, and other applications.