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Wells Fargo Pilots, Visa Formally Launches Mobile Contactless Payments

Two hundred Wells Fargo employees to try contactless mobile payments on BlackBerrys and iPhones; system now available to all banks.

Wells Fargo today announced a San Francisco-based pilot of Visa mobile payments as Visa announced that its contactless mobile payment technology is now generally available.

The San Francisco pilot will be conducted among 200 Wells Fargo employees who use BlackBerry and iPhone devices. BlackBerry users will insert a DeviceFidelity In2Pay microSD chip containing Visa payWave software in their phone; iPhone users will receive an In2Pay case for their iPhone that contains the microSD card.

To make payments, users open the Wells Fargo Mobile Banking application, select "pay with phone" and wave the phone in front of a contactless reader at the point of purchase. The reader will light up and beep, indicating that the payment has been received. The system will work at fast food restaurants, taxis, sporting event concession stands and vending machines.

Pilot participants can load up a Wells Fargo Visa credit or debit card. Wells Fargo Visa payWave transactions, including those initiated by a mobile phone, are backed by Wells Fargo's Zero Liability protection, meaning a cardholder is not liable for any unauthorized transactions made at merchants, over the phone, on the Internet or at the ATM, when promptly reported.

The Wells Fargo Mobile Banking App is available from the App Store on iPhone.

Visa's announcement that it's making this contactless mobile payment solution generally available follows 18 months of technology development and pilot programs with banks including Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase and U.S. Bank as well as Wells Fargo; one pilot was conducted over New York and New Jersey transit systems. Visa's solutions works with the BlackBerry Bold 9650, the iPhone 4, the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 3G, and the Android-based Samsung Vibrant Galaxy S. [The iPhones all require a special sleeve or case for the microSD card since the iPhone does not come with a memory slot.] Visa expects to add additional phone models for use with this technology, including phones based on the Symbian and Windows operating systems.

Banks can integrate Visa's mobile payment solution into their existing mobile application and offer additional services such as Visa transaction alerts that notify account holders in near real-time of account activity, and targeted merchant offers that are tailored to consumer lifestyle and location.

There are nearly five billion mobile handsets in market around the globe and according to IDC, smart phone shipments globally are expected to increase 24% in 2011.

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