5 pay-by-phone apps tested

The mobile payments industry is expected to top $171 billion in 2012, and dozens of players want in. Are they ready for everyday users yet? I left behind my wallet for a day and went shopping.


gallery mobile payment home depot

Want to ditch your actual phone and pay by simply typing in your mobile phone number? You can do it now at Home Depot (HD) and other large retailers that have teamed with eBay's (EBAY) PayPal.

The new partnership lets you link your PayPal account with your phone, set up a PIN, and check out by keying your phone number in at the payment terminal.

The actual check-out experience -- I bought a Blue Diamond orchid for the CNNMoney office -- was a breeze. The problem was the set-up. You'll have to go into your PayPal account and enter in your mobile number. If the site already has the number on file, you have to specify that the number is mobile. When I tried to get all my details set, the site kept redirecting me. I finally had to call a representative, who helpfully walked me through the process.

Paying with just your phone number sounds a bit scary -- many people have mine on file-- but PayPal has a few safeguards built in. The first is the PIN. PayPal also sends a text message as soon as you make a payment. If someone is fraudulently using your account, you'll find out fast.

  @LaurieSegallCNN - Last updated September 24 2012 09:31 AM ET

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