By Aimee Chanthadavong

ANZ and Visa have kicked off a four-week internal trial of a contactless mobile payment application.

Fifty participants from the Sydney and Melbourne offices of the two companies have been given a special protective iPhone case with a secure microSD memory card.

Visa Australia country manager Vipin Kalra told RetailBiz that people’s mobile could soon be a host to a virtual’ Visa prepaid card, turning their phones into a 'virtual wallet'.

“With more than 4.5 billion mobile devices in markets around the world, we believe mobile payments offer a great opportunity to enhance the payment experience.  Our mobile payWave technology is about giving people more choice when it comes to making secure and convenient payments. There’s no doubt smart phones will become ubiquitous and mobile payments will be the way of the future,” he said.

“The possibilities with mobile are endless, your mobile could allow more than just payments – you could manage your account, detect fraud and receive real time offers from merchants.

“People already use their mobile phones for so many things – to talk, text, transfer money, book taxis, take photos, access social networks – the next logical step is to use your phone to pay for goods and services.”

Like the Visa debit cards, participants in the trial will be able to make payments by waving their phone in front of a contactless reader. For purchases under $100 no PIN or signature is required and the customer has the option of receiving a receipt.

“Once activated participants can then use the iPhone to perform Visa payWave contactless transaction at any of the merchants currently accepting Visa payWave,” Kalra said.

The technology is compatible with existing contactless payment terminals already installed at more than 20,000 retail outlets across Australia, including coffee shops, Bunnings, McDonalds, 7-Eleven, IGA, Cotton On, JB-Hi-FI, Teds cameras, The Body Shop and sporting stadiums.

All Visa payWave transactions, including those initiated by a mobile phone, are backed by Visa’s Zero Liability protection1 and ANZ Fraud Money Back Guarantee. This means that a cardholder is not liable for any unauthorised transactions when promptly reported to their bank or card issuer. The payment application can also be deactivated if the phone is lost or stolen.

The microSD payment technology, developed by DeviceFidelity in partnership with Visa, combines a protective iPhone case with a secure memory card that hosts Visa’s contactless payment application, called Visa payWave. The microSD card hosts a prepaid ANZ account that can be topped up over the internet when needed.

According to Kalra, the four-week trial will allow Visa and ANZ to test the waters of the Australian marketplace with benefits for consumers, merchants and financial institutions.

“We will be looking closely at the results of the trial when considering commercial opportunities.  There are also a number of trials taking place in the US, and we are looking to make a service commercially available in the US later this year,” he said.

“Having the NFC feature built into phones is the long term objective, but this case provides a solution while we are waiting for NFC-enabled phones to gain critical mass.  Enabling mobile devices with a memory card slot to facilitate mobile contactless payments is considered a first and very positive step to advance the adoption of mobile contactless payments globally.

“Visa also believes that this technology can help advance the adoption of NFC, and pave the way for a broad scale deployment of NFC-enabled mobile devices, especially in countries with an existing contactless acceptance infrastructure.”