Leave your wallet at home, pay by phone

An alliance of mobile phone companies are pushing forward plans that will allow subscribers to pay for products with their mobile phone

Four of Europe's leading mobile phone operators have announced the formation of a mobile payment services association which will provide their customers with a multi-network solution for making payments using their phones.

Orange, T-Mobile and Vodafone, along with Spain's Telefonica Moviles, announced the alliance on Thursday which will enable customers across Europe to securely buy digital or physical goods using their handsets.

The alliance hopes to establish an industry standard which will enable merchants and operators to press on with the roll out of more m-payment enabled services.

M-payments, or mobile payments, have already been trialled to varying degrees of success with companies hoping to use the technology to drive sales of products which are priced in such as way as to be preclusive to credit card payments.

In the online world, while people buying books from Amazon, for example, will doubtless continue to use their credit cards, users may prefer to make smaller payments, typically of around a few pounds, for services such as games, crosswords, downloads or website subscriptions, via their mobile phones.

Offline, uses for m-payments include using your mobile phone to pay for travel tickets.

Tim Jones, chief executive of the Mobile Payment Services Association, said: "The history of the mobile phone industry shows that major business volumes only came when customers had the freedom to reach across and interact with any network.

"An open payment solution will help to take the mobile phone to a new level, where it becomes the single most essential item that people carry with them."

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