Visa has launched a mobile platform for testing new applications that will open the way to make payments using a mobile phone or similar device.
Once established, the technology could give businesses a new e-commerce channel in which to sell goods and services securely and conveniently.
Patrick Gauthier, senior vice-president for innovation at Visa International, said mobile payment had been made possible by the advent of 3G networks and smartphones, and is already partially in use, as smartphone users can use web browsers on their phones to make payments.
But Gauthier said that, in most cases, "The experience for the cardholder is not convenient and [such methods of payment] have not been optimised for security."
He said Visa would start testing and running pilot roll outs with mobile providers in 2007.
"The key to mobile payment is to have an environment with a consistent payment mechanism, which offers simplicity, convenience and security," he said.
To this end, Visa has created a platform comprising technology tools and applications, security standards, and business models to enable Visa issuers and mobile operators to run trials and commercialise mobile payment services.
The platform has been developed in partnership with Nokia, IBM, Verisign, Inside Contactless, ViVOtech and mFormation Technologies.
The initial version is designed to support contactless mobile payment, where the device is placed near a reader, similar to the way an Oyster card is used to pay for public transport in London.
Later this year the platform is expected to be updated to support more sophisticated services such as account management services.
Mary Ann O'Loughlin, senior vice-president of consumer practice at Ovum, said Visa was "leading the charge to simplify and jump-start the development of innovative mobile payment services".
But others warned that hurdles still remain. Analyst group Datamonitor said the success of mobile payments depends on interoperability between mobile operators. "There are few signs that this has happened on a large scale. This remains a key barrier to the take-up of mobile payments, and casts doubt on the business case," it warned.
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