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Visa certifies smartphones for NFC payments

By certifying the phones to work with its payWave system, Visa guarantees performance and interoperability

By Mikael Ricknäs, IDG News Service
January 10, 2012 09:35 AM ET

IDG News Service - Visa has added smartphones from Samsung Electronics, Research In Motion and LG Electronics to the list of devices it has certified to work with the 185,000 NFC-based payWave payment terminals in Europe.

All the certified products run Visa's payWave application on a secure SIM card and use NFC (Near Field Communications), a short range communications standard, to securely transmit payment information to a contactless payment terminal, according to Visa.

The first round of certified phones are: Samsung Galaxy S II, LG Optimus NET NFC, BlackBerry Bold 9900, BlackBerry Bold 9790, BlackBerry Curve 9360 and BlackBerry Curve 9380.

By certifying the phones, Visa guarantees that each device meets its payWave performance and interoperability requirements. Transaction speeds and the read range of the phone are just two of the metrics Visa measures as part of the certification, Mary Carol Harris, Head of Mobile at Visa Europe, said via email.

PayWave is Visa's method for wireless payments using either cards or mobile phones. It allows users to make purchases by waving their mobile phone in front of a compatible payment terminal, according to Visa. The certification scheme is a joint effort between Visa Europe and Visa Inc., which operates in the rest of the world.

There was some progress for mobile payments in 2011, but not as much as people had hoped for, John Devlin, group director at market research company ABI Research, saidin a recent interview.

Visa signed a license agreement with Google making payWave compatible with Google Wallet, for example.

Looking forward to the rest of 2012, Visa is optimistic. Mobile payments represent a huge opportunity as the different companies begin to work together to make their promise a reality, according to Harris.

"2012 [will be] a crucial step for mobile payment to begin to prove itself in practical, every day situations and set the scene for a wider mainstream adoption in years to come," said Harris.

The card company is now working with Samsung on a handset for the Olympic and Paralympic games, which will be enabled for mobile payments.

"The Olympics will be a significant showcase for contactless and mobile payments. The eyes of the world will be on London and it is a chance to show people how easy, safe and convenient new payment technologies can be," said Harris.

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