Visa Joins Mobile Payments Bandwagon

(08 Dec 2010, BWCS Staff)

Credit card company Visa is preparing to launch mobile contactless payment services across Europe. According to the payments giant, the new service will provide a highly secure application management capability for new mobile cards stored inside mobile handsets. The service aims to capitalize on Visa issuers’ existing connections to the company’s authorisation and payment processing systems.

Sandra Alzetta, Head of Innovation at Visa Europe, commented in a statement, “As NFC handsets and contactless accessories for existing phones become available and the contactless acceptance infrastructure grows, Visa is ensuring that the back-end technologies to support mobile contactless launches are designed for scale and maximum security.”

The Visa Mobile Gateway is integrated into Visa’s Authorisations systems which process over 9 billion transactions a year in Europe. Visa issuers can use the system to interact with the Visa Mobile Payment Application which will be stored securely in a Secure Element, or hardware chip, inside the phone. This chip can be either embedded, stored on a removable memory card, or on a SIM card. 

Earlier this month three of the largest mobile operators in the US: Verizon Wireless, AT&T Mobility and T-Mobile USA, announced plans to form a joint venture aimed at building and operating a mobile commerce network for North America. The new outfit will be known as Isis and will use the same Near Field Communications systems that Visa plans to utilize, to help enable contactless mobile payments and mobile commerce services.

The three giant backers said that the new venture will initially focus on building a mobile payment network that enables users to make point-of-sale purchases via their handsets. The new company will launch in some key markets over the next 18 months and, as its trio of backers can claim some 200 million mobile customers, it will have quite a captive audience to aim at.


Isis, which will be headed up by former GE Capital executive, Michael Abbott, will work with the payment network developed by Discover Financial Services. The Discover system is currently accepted in over seven million retail premises across the US. Barclaycard US is expected to be the first issuer on the network, offering multiple mobile payment products.


For its part, Visa Europe will be offering the service for new mobile contactless projects in countries where Visa issuers have already implemented or have launched contactless card programmes. 


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