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Visa, Nokia turn mobile phones into mobile wallets

By Lucas van Grinsven, European Technology Correspondent
Reuters
Tuesday, January 9, 2007; 2:37 PM

LAS VEGAS (Reuters) - Visa, the world's biggest credit card payment system, has launched a global system to turn mobile phones into wallets for millions of customers in a deal with the world's top handset producer, Nokia <NOK1V.HE>.

Users can pay for groceries and other purchases by swiping a phone over a reader that electronically communicates with a microchip on the phone. Phone owners confirm the purchase with the push of a button and the deal is complete.

The platform is the result of many years of trials around the world and will enable mobile contactless payments, remote payments, person-to-person payments, and mobile coupons.

Consumers will also be able manage their payment accounts and funds from their mobile devices, Visa said in a statement issued at the Consumer Electronics Show here. IBM <IBM.N> has also helped to create the mobile payment system.

Visa will use global technology standards which have been selected and developed over the past few years by groups such as the Mobile Payment Forum from the world's major credit card companies, telecoms operators, chip makers and handset vendors.

The wireless standard that will link mobile phones with payment systems in stores and elsewhere will be the Near Field Communication (NFC) chip, which will be hidden under the phone cover and makes contact when swiped over a reader.

This NFC technology, developed by former Philips <PHG.AS> chip unit NXP and Sony <6758.T>, is already widely used in public transport access cards.

Visa said its cards and payment systems currently generate more than $4 trillion in sales volume worldwide. On October 11, Visa announced plans to restructure its global operations and create a new publicly traded company called Visa Inc.

The initial version of the mobile payment platform launched on Monday offers contactless mobile payment, personalization over mobile telephony networks, coupons and direct marketing.

Subsequent versions of the platform, to be made available later in the year, will include remote payment -- also using mobile telephony networks -- and person-to-person payment.

"This tiered launch approach enables Visa issuers and mobile industry partners to take advantage of near-term opportunities in specific markets and consumer segments now," Visa said.

Until now, mobile payment systems have been restricted to trials, and most test only one or a few services.

In October, Japan's leading credit card company, JCB Co., started Europe's first mobile phone credit payment trial with Nokia and Dutch telecoms operator KPN <KPN.AS> <KPN.N> in seven stores in the Netherlands and among 100 card holders.

Other mobile phone payment trials in Germany and Finland enabled consumers to pay for public transport.




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