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 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
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

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

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