RealTime IT News

Visa Mobilizes Payments Platform

Credit card company Visa can lay the mobile payments plumbing.

This week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Visa launched a suite of mobile technology tools, applications, security standards and business models meant to lay the foundation for the commercial availability of mobile payments and services to millions of mobile users around the world.

Visa isn't reinventing the phone or anything, but one analyst argued that the company's new platform could change how Americans pay for everyday products by 2010.

Visa International vice president of mobile innovation Dave Wentker told internetnews.com the platform will facilitate three types of mobile payments: mobile Internet transactions, fund transfers from person to person and contact-less payments that incorporate Near Field Communication (NFC)technology.

Visa is not, however, making these technologies available to the consumer market. Instead, Wentker said it's offering the platform to the financial services and mobile telecommunications sectors. It'll be up to those businesses to engage in market trials and drive product development.

Visa's mobile payments platform is back-end technology, Wentker said, ready for what the banks think they can do with it.

JupiterKagan research analyst Ed Kountz told internetnews.com that given recent technology advances, the U.S. market might finally be ready for what the banks come up with.

"Is the market ready for a broad-based deployment of mobile payments in the U.S.? Not yet. But we are further along than we were 18 to 24 months ago," Kountz said.

So when can you expect to pay for a Slurpee with your iPhone? Kountz said between 2007 and 2010 there will be a "large amount of increased visibility of these services."

And with all signs pointing toward that reality, Kountz said Visa was smart to act fast. There's obviously not an established leader in the mobile payments market yet, and the telecommunication industry wants a piece.

But for the time being, American consumers still view Visa as a payment provider and telecommunication firms merely as phone companies.

"Clearly it makes sense for Visa to get their ducks in a row while there is still time to do so."