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RFID Technology Comes of Age as Price is Right for Banks

The drop in cost of radio-tag technology makes it an affordable option now for banks, says Mike Russo, senior vice president of Wells Fargo Bank and the man who began to standardize how radio technology could be used in banking to track assets and facilitate contactless payments.

Radio-tagging, which is similar to the use of microchips to track pets, now costs a fraction of what it did just two years ago. "[Tag] readers that were $2,500 now are $900 and the tags that were $5 now are a buck-fifty," Russo says.

Russo initiated the Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) project under way at the Financial Services Technology Consortium (FSTC New York), which hopes to have created RFID standards for banking applications by yearend.

He also holds a new functional title at San Francisco-based Wells, as SVP of automated ID technologies, reflecting growing industry awareness of the need to track computer equipment better.

For assets tracking radio tags are much easier and quicker to use than bar coding, while for payments radio opens up new possibilities, with, for example, a wave of a cell phone being enough to identify an account holder and debit funds from them.

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