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Monday, February 25, 2013

Visa Teams Up With Samsung on Mobile Payments

The idea of paying for things with a phone is still foreign to most people, but now Visa and Samsung Electronics are working together to make mobile payments easier.

The companies on Monday said that many new Samsung phones would incorporate Visa’s payments software, called payWave. The software will come preloaded on all Samsung phones that have near-field communications technology, which allows users to tap their phones against a payment terminal to exchange information. Samsung’s popular Galaxy smartphones include near-field capabilities Teri Daley, a Samsung spokeswoman, said Samsung’s next Galaxy smartphone, the Galaxy S IV, would be introduced March 14.

With this technology in place, the Visa payments app could potentially replace a customer’s Visa card. Outside companies, like retailers, could also choose to build the payment system into their apps.

In the past year several companies have announced different approaches to mobile payments, but the technology has not caughton with American consumers. Analysts say that is in part due to the fact that businesses have not proved that paying with a wallet is more convenient than using cash or a credit card. But it is also because the tech companies, banks and carriers are competing to have their own system gain dominance, rather than working together.

For example, after Square formed a partnership with Starbucks to accept mobile payments, other retailers like 7-Eleven, Best Buy and Wal-Mart formed an alliance to make their own mobile payments network. AT&T, Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile USA have formed their own mobile payments network called ISIS, while Sprint offers its own wallet system.

“Which is going to be the winner or loser” said Eden Zoller, an analyst at Ovum, a research firm. “It’s not clear at the moment. It’s quite confusing that there’s Isis, PayPal, PayPal mobile app, Square and! others. Which ones should users adopt”

A partnership between such major companies has the potential to break this pattern â€" or just to add to the complexity of an already fractured market. Visa executives say there needs to be tighter collaboration between companies providing mobile payments, and the mobile wallet is still three to five years away from mainstream adoption.

But Jim McCarthy, Visa’s global head of product, said in an interview that working with Samsung, one of the world’s largest phone makers, was a big step to helping mobile payments gain traction, given Samsung’s reach and the fact that consumers will not have to choose which payments app to download.