Visa partners with Samsung to push NFC mobile payments globally

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Some say NFC is just a gimmick — that swishing your phone around to pay for even something as simple as a cup of coffee just isn’t an option for the majority of mobile phone users worldwide. While smartphone adoption rates are increasing and most new devices are now NFC-capable, the mobile payments wave-to-pay revolution is taking a while to reach its peak.

Visa obviously sees the potential though, and has teamed up with the world’s largest smartphone manufacturer to drive NFC payment adoption rates forward. The company has announced a global partnership with Samsung to offer financial institutions an easier way to get their customers using the technology, by allowing them to use its Mobile Provisioning Service to securely download payment account information over-the-air to a chip on Samsung’s phones. Selected future Samsung phones will now also come with Visa’s payWave applet installed by default, which (like the name suggests) allows you to wave and pay for your purchases.

“Samsung devices enabled with Visa payment functionality will no doubt be a powerful product offering – especially in markets where paying with a mobile device is becoming commonplace,” said Jim McCarthy, Visa’s global head of product, in a statement. “However, the key to making mobile payments broadly available all over the world is to offer financial institutions a secure way to provision millions of smartphones with payment account information – and that is exactly what Visa and Samsung are ready to deliver.”

Interestingly, this announcement comes less than a month before the launch of Samsung’s Galaxy S IV — the successor to its ridiculously popular S III, which clocked over 30-million sales in less than 157 days after its May 2012 launch — suggesting the technology could be incorporated in the new flagship phone.

Although Visa’s Mobile Provisioning Service isn’t available in all territories, this level of global partnership could help with making it easier for banks to facilitate mobile payments and speed up the adoption of NFC-based payments outside of techie hubs and developed markets. The potential is huge — some estimates suggest that NFC payments will total in excess of US$171-billion by 2017. That goal post could shift a bit closer if Samsung’s on the side of financial institutions — after all, the South Korean giant shipped 216-million of the world’s smartphones last year, and secured 22% of the entire mobile phone market.

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