Visa approves smartphones for NFC payments: Good start, but still hurdles ahead

Visa's move to certify key smartphones for its wireless payment system only steps up the NFC-race slightly. Retailers, banks and mobile manufacturers still have a way to go yet.

Visa announced today its approval of Samsung, LG and BlackBerry smartphones to utilise its new Visa payWave technology, as part of efforts to widen adoption of mobile device wireless payments.

It's a step in the right direction, but the path to wireless payment success is still fraught with hurdles. It does however pave the way for a future roll-out for smartphone payments.

The financial giant certified Samsung’s Galaxy S II, LG's Optimus Net NFC, BlackBerry Bold 9900 and 9790, and BlackBerry Curve 9360 and 9380 devices. The smartphones will work with the estimated 185,000 contactless payment terminals used in shops and stores.

The new devices host the payWave application on a secure SIM card, allowing users to wave their mobile devices in front of a terminal to wirelessly transmit payments.

In the U.S., mobile commerce company Isis -- a joint venture between AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon -- signed a deal last year with Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express in a bid to deploy a wider mobile payments ecosystem.

But across the pond, Visa is pushing for the technology to be available by the time of the 2012 London Olympics.

With just shy of 200 days until the opening ceremony -- and with no official timescale for smartphone manufacturers, retailers and banks of coming up with a feasible plan, Visa nevertheless hopes to have things evened out this year.

There are an estimated 60,000 contactless terminals in London. Considering the Olympics alone will attract many millions of visitors to the city, it seems like a perfect opportunity to cash in.

Analyst firm Yankee Group predicts that NFC transactions could grow from $27 million in 2010 to $40 billion by 2014. It is hoped the Olympics will be the perfect testing ground for boosting the popularity of the service.

Hurdles. Get it?

Image source: CNET.

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