Visa is to extend its SMS-based mobile top-up service across Europe, Middle East and Africa after a successful trial run in Morocco with technology supplier Upaid, Banque Marocaine du Commerce Extérieur (BMCE) and mobile operator Méditel.
The service enables prepaid mobile phone users to recharge airtime direct from a Visa card account simply by sending an SMS/text message. Not only can consumers top up their own mobile phone, but also that of family and friends. No special handsets or technology are required, and the service is provided as a "plug and play" solution to participating banks and operators.
The Upaid technology enables multiple banks and mobile operators to connect to a host platform that authenticates and processes top-up transactions. The platform interacts with both operators' and banks' systems to authenticate the end-user based on his MSISDN (mobile phone number) combined with a PIN used to initiate transactions. It then handles the transfer of transaction authorisation and top-up message requests between the bank and the operator.
Initially contracted to partner Visa for the Morocco project, Visa and Upaid have now extended their agreement until December 2005 to facilitate wider deployment.
Hilary Mitchell, vice president new payment solutions, Visa International believes that once customers become familiar with using their mobile phone to recharge their airtime, a much wider range of payment applications becomes possible.
He states: "The functionality and flexibility of the Upaid platform means that the service can expand...to enable a range of customer friendly solutions for remote payments."