Visa has completed development of its contactless payments system and is ready to begin deploying chip-based payment cards featuring the technology in the US.
The system, which uses radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology, allows consumers to pay for purchases by waving their card in front of a point-of-sale (pos) terminal equipped with a contactless reader. All other aspects of the contactless payments are handled in the same way as a traditional transaction.
Visa says the system will make the purchase process faster and easier, while offering all the same security protections as traditional payments.
Commenting on the launch of the technology in North America, Elizabeth Buse, executive vice president, product development and management, Visa USA, says: "After successful trials in several regions of the world, we feel we have the right solution and this is the right time for Visa to make contactless technology available in the US market."
But Visa still needs to convince it merchant customers and card issuers to switch to the contactless technology. Niki Manby, VP, market and technology innovation, Visa USA, told reporters that so far no card issuers are offering the contactless payments cards and Visa has declined to say whether any retailers have agreed to use the system.
MasterCard's contactless PayPass system has been tested at McDonald's restaurants, among other locations, and is also being incorporated into the card loyalty programmes run by MBNA on behalf of the Seattle Seahawks and Baltimore Ravens.
American Express has also been road-testing ExpressPay, a chip-based keyring attachment which uses RFID technology to transmit payment instructions to merchant terminals, since 2003.