The shift to making payments on a mobile phone is taking a major step forward with Visa launching the first mobile phone-based contactless payment system this week. The system uses NFC (Near Field Communications) technology, which has been agreed as the worldwide standard system, and will be rolled out initially across Malaysia.The launch follows a series of trials over the past two years using NFC technology, which enables users to pay for goods and services by “waving” their handset close to a reader, effectively turning their phone into a wallet. Visa already uses the same technology in its payWave contactless credit and debit cards.
For the launch, Visa has teamed up with Nokia supply its Nokia 6212 NFC-enabled handset, Maybank, Malaysia’s largest bank and Maxis, the country’s largest mobile network operator.
“We believe that Visa’s NFC mobile payment launch in Malaysia signals a tipping point for the payments industry globally as we move from mobile payment pilots to commercial availability,” said Elizabeth Buse, Global Head of Product at Visa.
An initial 3,000 Nokia handsets will go on sale this month. Maybank Visa card holders will be able to complete transactions by waving their devices close to special point-of-sale readers installed at more than 1,800 merchant outlets, predominantly around Kuala Lumpur.
Visa is keen to tap the potential of mobile handsets as a platform for mobile banking. The launch comes as part of its efforts to “move electronic payments beyond the card to a vast new market of 4bn mobile subscribers globally,” the company said.