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Consumer Confidential: Paying by cellphone, paying for carry-on bags

August 2, 2010 |  9:53 am

Here's your thoroughly modern Monday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:

--AT&T and Verizon want to do away with plastic. The telecom giants hope a new generation of even smarter smart phones will replace credit and debit cards, allowing users to swipe the handset at the cash register and have the purchase deducted from a bank account. This would be, of course, bad news for Visa and MasterCard, which are the big dogs on the plastic scene, but would potentially generate huge revenue for the phone companies as they cut themselves in for a little slice of each transaction -- just as Visa and MasterCard now do. Testing of a new pay-by-phone system reportedly will begin soon in a handful of cities.

--Maybe you can use your cellphone to pay Spirit Airlines' new fee for carry-on bags. The up-to-$45 fee took effect Sunday, and the airline says that, despite some grumbling among passengers, things went off without a hitch. Spirit says the new fee will speed up the boarding process, presumably because fewer people will have carry-on bags to stow away in overhead bins. I'm thinking it's just a money grab -- and if Spirit pulls it off, every other airline will soon follow suit.

-- David Lazarus

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