Visa Announces Mobile Phone Platform
Following on the heels of MasterCard’s recently-announced cell phone payment trial, Visa announced Tuesday the launch of a new “mobile platform” that sets the stage for more cell-phone-as-credit-card scenarios. Multiple vendors in the credit card and cell phone industries have been collaborating for the last few years on phones that would use an embedded chip to transfer credit card data via near field communications (NFC) to special readers set up at merchants that accept credit cards. Visa did not announce any specific trials of the service, but this week’s announcement, along with MasterCard’s trial that uses its PayPass technology to allow cell phone payments, makes it clear that mobile phone/credit card integration is nearing fruition.
The obvious question is whether Visa is rolling out a platform that will coexist with other platforms being tested, or whether a technology battle looms that forces merchants and/or consumers to choose one vendor/credit card company over another.� Will merchants be able to accept mobile phone payments regrdless of the name associated with the credit card? If not, will they choose one technology over the other or demand that the credit card industry agree on a standard?
With the amount of money at stake, it would be easy to assume that a standard will be worked out.� On the other hand, the competition between Visa and MasterCard is heating up, with MasterCard now a public company and Visa soon to follow. It’s too early to tell how the mobile payments story will shake out.
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