Telstra, NAB and Visa team up to turn phones into piggy banks

Soon you may be able to pay for your shopping with your mobile phone, thanks to some new technology being trialed in a joint venture from Telstra, NAB and Visa.

The technology, called near field communications (NFC), embeds a NAB Visa card application within a mobile phone's SIM card. NAB customers will then be able to make payments by waving their Telstra phones over a merchant's reader. Merchants will simply require a plug-in for their existing readers to get in on the service.

Other kinds of cards may also be replaced by this technology in the future. Loyalty program cards, membership cards, public transport tickets and building access security cards are all potentially redundant if this technology takes off.

There is potential for new avenues of marketing, too. "Mobile couponing", which involves swiping your mobile through a reader to gain the offered discount, is one option that will be newly opened to marketers.

Person-to-person money transfers and remittances will be possible through NFC technology, and Visa promises that more remote (and now traditional) transactions, such as those made in e-commerce, will still be possible.

People concerned with security need not fear, according to Visa's Andrew Woodward. "Just like with a regular card, if your phone is lost or stolen, you ring up and the phone is immediately prevented from being used," he said.

The price of using the service is unknown at this stage. "It's still very much in the trial stage" Woodward said. "At this stage we're still working out which merchants the service is most successful for, and how people use it."

This is the first time the technology will be tested in Australia, though Visa has tested the waters previously in a number of nations, including both the US and Malaysia this year. If the trials prove successful, Woodward believes the service will open up to the general public in Australia in the second half of 2008.

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Matthew Sainsbury
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