Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Visa Europe to Test Dongle-Based iPhone NFC Mobile :Payments

Visa Europe surveyed 4,200 people in four different European nations and found that 57 percent of iPhone users among the respondents said they'd "definitely" or "probably" use Visa's mobile payments platform on their iPhone if they could. 

Some 41 percent of all respondents reported they would likely use near field communications and mobile payments if possible.

Visa has drawn the logical inference: that European Apple iPhone users should be targeted. How, you might ask, since the  iPhone does not yet support NFC? There always are work-around processes in the mobile payment business. 

One way is to outfit a standard iPhone with an NFC-supporting dongle, much as Square turns an iPhone into a payment terminal using a dongle. 

Visa appears to be readying a test using the Wireless Dynamics iCarte. Retailer point of sale terrminals also will need to be outfitted for NFC, but also can use a dongle approach. 

Some of us have mused that Apple could be a huge force in the mobile payments business if it wanted to "transform" payments the way it routinely expects to transform other businesses. The barrier, of course, is that Apple prefers to transform consumer industries that are based on use of devices. 

Mobile payments does not appear to offer much upside in that regard, as Apple already leads the smart phone business. That means mobile payments is just a feature, not the foundation for a whole new class of consumer devices. 

But Visa already seems eager to test a theory about the value of an app using the iPhone as a hardware platform. Visa does not lack for clarity about what it means for its own business. 

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