ToneTag Steps Up its Mobile Payments by Sound Operations

October 11, 2018         By: Steven Anderson

We’ve seen mobile payments systems built around a lot of different platforms. Cards, smartphones, watches, even sneakers thanks to Pizza Hut’s bizarre campaign to order food with your shoes. Now, we have mobile payments built around sound, and ToneTag’s efforts on this front may be about to pay off handsomely.

With a sound-based payment system like ToneTag’s, payment data is transferred via sound wave, which means that the need for a smartphone—or even electricity—is substantially reduced. This makes ToneTag’s system potentially one of the most versatile in existence.

Already, ToneTag has set up a deal to bring its system to First Abu Dhabi Bank, which is the United Arab Emirates’ largest bank. With that deal, the bank will bring out the sound-based contactless payment system to its own customers through its PayIt app.

Kumar Abhishek, ToneTag’s co-founder and CEO, noted that ToneTag and potentially other sound-based systems would “…allow customers to pick up products and walk out of retail stores, their payments being conducted automatically via sound wave and their phones. We aim to explore the transport and consumer-internet sectors in the future.”

ToneTag’s home stomping grounds are in India, a country which has really embraced mobile payments in most of its forms, including with quick response (QR) codes as well as standard payment methods. With large portions of the country lacking in infrastructure to accommodate mobile payments—including not only wireless connections but in some cases even electricity—a system like this can have some real advantages.

Even in places where power and wireless connectivity are plentiful, such a system not only has the gee-whiz factor that draws in at least a few users, but also has a potential to be shrunk down into much smaller wearable devices, like even buttons or badges. A system like this could also be readily built into cars; imagine how well this would work at a tollbooth or even a drive-thru window for takeout food. Pull up, press button, collect item; it’s exactly the kind of system many drivers would love.

Only time will tell what impact this has on the wider market, but it’s clear that this might be a game-changer, and particularly so in areas with few other options in mobile payments.