Pay Fast--With No Cash

Simple new devices let customers buy without waiting in line

Curtis Mason doesn't like to carry cash, which used to be a problem on the days when he didn't have time to pack himself a lunch before heading off to work at Sears Credit in Boise, Idaho. But now Mason, 23, an account manager, simply waves a wand at a vending machine, and out comes a hoagie or his favorite indulgence--a Big Ed's ice-cream sandwich.

The wand's not magic. It's just a plastic doodad smaller than a lipstick, embedded with a tiny electronic chip that is scanned by a reader in the vending machine. The reader taps Mason's credit account over...

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