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NFC-based Mobile Payments Gain Visa's Support, but are Far from Reality

Visa recently reaffirmed its commitment to support NFC-based payments by announcing measures that will increasingly move U.S. merchants and consumers away from magnetic-stripe based cards to next-generation payment types, including EMV/chip and pin and NFC.  This is an exciting development for the NFC community, as the transition of NFC-based mobile payments from concept to reality will create significant demand for NFC-based payment solutions.

In order for this transition to mobile payments to occur, there are a number of stakeholders that must cooperate, including banks, merchants, payment processors, mobile device manufacturers and cellular network operators. Card issuers such as Visa are also among this critical mass.

While other card issuers, including Mastercard and AMEX, also are embracing NFC technology, having signed on to various mobile payment networks, the transition from magnetic stripe cards to NFC-enabled mobile payments will not happen overnight.

There are many other pieces to the NFC mobile payment puzzle beyond gaining the support of card issuers. Merchants, banks, and wireless network companies will also need to buy-in to the idea of mobile payments and work through potentially sticky issues including interchange fees, security, and which stakeholder bears responsibility in the event of fraud. Equally as important, mobile device manufacturers will need to facilitate consumers’ adoption of this technology through broader offerings of NFC-enabled smartphones. At present, a limited number of smartphones available in the US market support NFC.

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