Visa brings contactless payments to Euro iPhones, dongle required for now

We're still some time away from iPhoners being able to tap cellies onto payment pads and walk off with purchases, though rumors and analysts and job postings all say that won't be for long. The lack of an NFC-equipped iPhone isn't stopping Visa from launching its Visa Mobile application for trials in Europe, which for now requires an external attachment, the (somewhat aged) iCarte accessory from Wireless Dynamics. With the app and the dongle users can start trying out phoney payments at various NFC-enabled terminals in Europe, presumably ahead of the release of a proper NFC-supporting iPhone sometime in the coming months. For now, though, is adding an extra inch to your handset more convenient than fumbling for a credit card? We'll let our European readers make that call.

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Visa Europe and Wireless Dynamics Inc bring contactless payments to iPhone

Visa Europe mobile contactless payment solution brings the convenience of mobile payments to iPhone users across Europe

London, 25 January 2011 – Visa Europe and Wireless Dynamics Inc. (Wireless Dynamics) today announced that they have developed a mobile contactless payment solution that will bring Visa contactless payments to iPhone users across Europe.

iPhone users simply attach the Wireless Dynamics iCarte accessory, available through their bank or mobile operator, to their iPhone and download the companion Visa Mobile application for iCarte App from the App Store. The iCarte accessory contains an antenna and an embedded Secure Element where the Visa mobile card is safely stored. This "card", in turn, works with an app from the App Store to enable payments on the iPhone. Once the Visa mobile card is activated, consumers can start making purchases by simply launching the app and touching their iPhone on any contactless-enabled point of sale terminal across Europe, without the need to enter their PIN*.

The iCarte accessory is designed to equip iPhone users with the tools they need to buy goods using mobile contactless technology from a growing number of European retailers. Visa Europe's first deployment has been launched in collaboration with Yapi Kredi bank and Turkey's largest mobile operator, Turkcell. Yapi Kredi customers equipped with a Turkcell mobile plan will be the first who can purchase directly from their iPhone at 40,000 contactless point of sale terminals in Turkey using their iCarte payment accessory. The product is also being used in the UK with Visa staff in London with partners FIS, a leading provider of prepaid platforms, and Coventry Building Society. To further commercialise the accessory, Visa Europe will engage its member banks and partner mobile operators in Italy, France, Poland, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey and the UK, all of which have rapidly maturing contactless payment infrastructure.

Sandra Alzetta, SVP, Head of Innovation at Visa Europe said: "It's clear from trials across Europe that mobile contactless payment is a strong and compelling customer proposition. Visa recognises that consumers who use smart phones like iPhone are more likely to be early adopters of advanced payment technology. Given that the availability of a wide range of mobile devices supporting contactless services remains a key hurdle for take-up, we are overcoming this by bringing the capability to the iPhones already in their pockets."

Ambrose Tam, President and CEO at Wireless Dynamics commented: "Working with Visa Europe to commercialise our iCarte accessories is a leap forward in increasing the number and types of mobile payment solutions. We've worked hard to design and build a feature-rich and appealing product for our partners and iPhone users across Europe."

European consumer research** conducted by Visa Europe in Italy, Poland, Turkey and the UK has confirmed strong consumer demand for mobile contactless payments with 41 per cent of respondents stating that they "definitely would" or "probably would" sign up to use Visa mobile payments. Critically, this percentage increased to 57 per cent when directed at iPhone users, which demonstrates that the device is the ideal cross-over of target mobile users and consumers with positive attitudes to new payment technologies. The research also indicated that 87 per cent of iPhone users surveyed would be willing to use an accessory to enable their device for mobile contactless payments.

The Wireless Dynamics iCarte accessory is compatible with iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS and iPhone3G on iOS 3.1 or higher. The iCarte Secure Element can be associated with multiple Visa accounts.

** The research was conducted by Incite Marketing Planning during the months of September and October 2010. Almost 4200 people were interviewed in four different countries: Turkey, the UK, Italy and Poland