The UK's major mobile phone operators - Orange, Vodafone, T-Mobile, 3 and O2 - have launched a payment system that allows subscribers to use their handsets to pay for low value purchases.
Users of the new PayForIt system can make one-off payments or set up subscriptions with a value of up to £10 for goods and services such as ringtones, train tickets and parking fees using Web-enabled handsets.
Money spent via PayForIt is automatically added to the customer's mobile phone bill, so users don't need a credit card or bank account.
Customers signed up to the service will be presented with a standard Payforit screen every time they make a transaction, which includes information on the content/service being purchased, the merchant it is being bought from and how much it will cost. Users then authorise payment by pressing 'pay now' or 'subscribe'. A payment request then goes directly to the mobile operator for validation.
The scheme has been set up by the telcos to provide a standardised payment system to customers - no matter what mobile operator a customer is signed up to or which handset they use.
The network operators have recruited a number of payment intermediaries, including mBlox and Verisign, to manage the billing requests and to present the on-screen payment pages to customers.
Firms including Electronic Arts, Multimap, Samsung and Sony Ericsson have already signed up to the m-payments scheme.