Home Visa to Launch Contactless Mobile Payments for iPhone

Visa to Launch Contactless Mobile Payments for iPhone

Want to pay for purchases by waving your iPhone in front of a payment terminal at checkout? That will soon be a reality thanks to a new partnership between Visa Inc. and DeviceFidelity, which has teamed up to launch a mobile payment technology for iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS devices.

The news comes by way of a leaked press release that temporarily appeared on MarketWatch, but has since been taken down. Several versions remain on the Web, however, thanks to Google’s cache.

payWave for iPhone

According to the release, the new Apple-certifed technology combines a protective iPhone case with a secure memory card that will host Visa’s contactless payment application, Visa payWave.

PayWave, introduced in September 2007, allows cardholders to wave their card in front of terminals in order to pay for purchases at point-of-sale. The technology is similar to MasterCard’s PayPass solution, which rolled out to select markets in 2005.

Visa’s contactless technology already works at over 32,000 retailers from top brands, notes the company’s corporate website, and the list is “rapidly growing,” it says.

The iPhone-enabled payWave technology, too, will be made available at thousands of merchants, claims the release, including fast food restaurants, retail stores, in taxis, during sporting events (such as baseball games) and even at vending machines that have contactless payment terminals.

Beyond iPhone: Works on Any Phone with a Memory Card Slot

What’s even better about this news is that the mobile payment technology won’t be limited to iPhones. It will also work with “a majority of smart phones that have a slot for a memory card,” which means that owners of other popular smartphones won’t necessarily be out of luck. To use Visa’s technology on non-iPhones, users can insert the card into their phone’s memory slot to transform their phones into mobile payment devices.

Visa already released a similar technology in Malaysia and Japan. Last year, for example, the company teamed up with Nokia and Maybank, a leading financial institution in Malaysia, to offer Visa payWave on mobile devices. But at the time, the company claimed that several barriers to U.S. adoption still remained, many of which had to due with the limited adoption of NFC-enabled devices and terminals here in the U.S. (NFC, or near field communications, is a wireless communication technology that enables data exchanges between devices. The technology is popular overseas in Europe and Asia, but has yet to catch on with any real gusto in North America. PayWave uses NFC for mobile transactions.)

Apparently, Visa has found a workaround for the lack of NFC phones by embedding the computer chip needed into specially designed iPhone cases instead.

Is it Secure?

Considering that people often lose their mobile phones, the application has been designed so that it can be password-protected and uses “advanced security technology,” says the release, to uniquely identify each transaction. If a phone was lost or stolen, the phone’s owner would simply call their provider who could then immediately deactivate the account, the same as with lost or stolen credit cards.

The leaked release was accompanied by videos demonstrating the new technology, but sadly those are now unavailable.

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