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October, 2010

Trading in your wallet for your phone

October 5, 2010 - 04:43 PM

(Part of the ongoing WISENET Series)

If you can't remember the last time you were without your cell phone, but you can remember your embarrassment when you forgot your wallet, you're a good candidate for a mobile wallet. What's a mobile wallet and where can you get one? Well, get in line. While all over Japan and Korea, people are waving their telephones over reader pads to pay for everything that you could pay for with cash, checks, or credit cards, we in the U.S. are pretty much still waiting. Even in the developing world mobile banking is allowing cash to travel as quickly as a text message to pay for all kinds of things. By now you've guessed that mobile banking is intended to replace your wallet with your cell phone (which for those of us who are trying to downsize our purses is reason enough to consider the option). For mobile payments to safely and securely catch on in the U.S., consumers, banks, merchants, and carriers must work together. I'll be blogging on this subject for a bit, so tune in and join in the discussion, as I look forward to learning from you as well.

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Lifeline Awareness Week 2010

October 1, 2010 - 12:51 PM

Can you imagine not having a phone? If your child is sick, how would you contact your doctor? If you are looking for a job, how would an employer contact you for an interview? Thankfully, two important telephone discount programs help "connect" phoneless residents by making telephone service more affordable for low-income folks. The Lifeline and Link-Up programs offer qualified consumers discounts on monthly phone bills and initial phone connection services.

I am concerned with estimates that less than 1/3 of those eligible in this country receive these benefits. This is why our second annual Lifeline Awareness Week was so important. Working with our colleagues at the FCC, states across the country are working together to let Americans know about these discounted phone services, which are especially needed during this difficult economy. Eligible low-income consumers can save $120 a year or more. By joining together the week of September 13th-19th — the Second Annual Lifeline Awareness Week — we have begun to get the word out to eligible consumers and get them connected!

So, what went on in New York State for Lifeline Awareness Week? Our Department of Public Service worked with other state agencies, human service organizations and telephone companies to promote Lifeline Awareness Week and focus attention on these important programs. We held three kick-off events on in Buffalo, Albany and New York City. Throughout the remainder of the week, our staff promoted the Lifeline/Link-up programs at our exhibit booth at outreach events across the state and in meetings with local human service organizations. In addition, we hosted a Lifeline webinar for representatives of service organizations that work directly with low income consumers.

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