Visa’s PayWave Turns Any Smartphone into an E-Wallet

by Matt Klassen on February 21, 2011

Quick and easy mobile payments are really nothing new. At select commercial outlets across the continent such technology, in one form or another, has been in play for several years now. But overall the mobile payment revolution has sputtered, failing to achieve the requisite technology, security, and mass adoption needed to really get the whole project off the ground.

Challenged to begin the mobile payment revolution back in 2009, its long been a mystery why the mobile market has taken so long to develop this technology. But with banks, credit card companies, and mobile manufacturers all recently unveiling their own solutions to mobile payment, its now clear that the entire scene is turning into a classic standoff, with mobile handset makers not willing to back a particular system and rival companies not will to support each other’s technologies.

So while we continue to sit and wait for Near Field Communication (NFC) enabled phones—which analysts say are still several years away—and for a clear winner in the mobile payment revolution, Visa has devised a plan to bring mobile payment to the average user right now, regardless of the phone they use…it created PayWave.

At first glance, Visa’s PayWave system looks exactly like every other NFC payment system we’ve seen to date. It uses the same short-range encrypted wireless communication that allows users to simply swipe their phone across a scanner to make payments on a host of products and services. So what’s so different about Visa’s PayWave system?

While every other mobile payment system is waiting for mobile handset makers to finally develop an affordable and attractive NFC phone, Visa has devised a way to make every smartphone NFC ready right now, by selling an NFC-enabled microSD (Secure Digital) removable chip that slips into the SD slot in the back of your phone, or in the case of the iPhone, a special plastic skin.

According to Visa representatives, the benefits of the PayWave microSD option are clear, as it allows users to keep the phones they love while still getting access to this advanced technology. Further, such widespread availability of a mobile payment system will only serve to kick-start the entire mobile payment revolution, allowing for widespread adoption without demanding users purchase new smartphones.

In regards to financial security, Visa has stated that its PayWave system contains an advanced anti-fraud system that alerts users to potential unauthorized usage; this in addition to the fact that NFC technology uses one-use codes for each of its transactions means that credit and debit card fraud may be a thing of the past.

In the end, as we all sit around and wait for the arrival of reliable mobile payment solutions, perhaps Visa is the frontrunner, the most likely candidate to make 2011 the year that made the classic leather wallet obsolete.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca >. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com > by: RSS >, Twitter >, Identi.ca >, or Friendfeed >

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