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Visa to launch V.me mobile wallet service in UK

Initially built for online transactions, V.me will eventually enable mobile payments in any environment

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Visa Europe has confirmed plans for a new digital wallet service in the UK, called V.me.

When it launches in autumn 2012, V.me will enable users to make online purchases via a web browser on a PC, laptop, tablet or mobile device. The service will be available through Visa’s member banks and consumers will be able to put multiple cards into the wallet.

V.me will not enable contactless payments, but is intended to complement the NFC-based payWave applications that Visa Europe is developing with its partners. The company told Techworld that, ultimately, the digital wallet will be the place where online transactions, person-to-person payments and loyalty services all meet.

“V.me sits at the heart of Visa’s future of payments,” said Mariano Dima, executive vice president of product and marketing solutions at Visa Europe. “Our intention is that V.me will ultimately be able to incorporate any or all of our new payment technologies, allowing our members to deliver the best possible payments experience whether face-to-face, online or in a mobile environment.”

Payments processor WorldPay has been announced as a development partner for the delivery of V.me in the UK. Further development and launch partners in other markets, such as France and Spain, will be announced soon, as well as participating banks and retailers.

Visa Europe said that online retailers will benefit from a more streamlined customer checkout process, driving up conversion rates and shopper satisfaction. Payments made through V.me will have the same protection and rights that come with any Visa card transaction, the company said.

“This comprehensive service suite, delivered under the V.me umbrella, will offer an easy way to benefit from the scale, security and reliability of Visa,” added Dima.

The news follows last week's launch of a new mobile wallet service from O2, designed to compete with Barclays' Pingit money-sending service. O2 Wallet allows consumers to transfer money across any network, make online purchases and conduct price comparisons by scanning product barcodes in shops.

O2 said that the service will eventually evolve to incorporate near-field communications (NFC) technology, but in the meantime users can apply for a physical O2 Money Visa Account Card that allows them to make purchases on the high street or withdraw cash from ATMs.

Research released today by information management company Stibo Systems reveals that 40% of survey respondents used a mobile device to make purchases in the last year. However, IEEE fellow Jack Winters recently warned that NFC-based payments are not likely to have a major impact until the technology is ubiquitous.

“It's something that can be useful, but not until the majority of phones have it,” he told Network World. “I use my credit card for $2 payments sometimes and until I'm blocked from using it I don't see NFC becoming widespread.”



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