Card network Visa is partnering with US Bank to launch a mobile money transfer pilot that will enable customers to transfer funds between Visa accounts using their handsets.
Cardholders participating in the trial will be able to initiate money transfer transactions using a mobile Web browser to access a secure interface. The transferred funds will be credited directly to the recipient's Visa account. The recipient can then access the money via a cash withdrawal at an ATM or by making a purchase at any merchant that accepts Visa products.
The pilot, which is set to begin by the end of 2008, is the first US-based trial testing mobile money transfers between Visa accounts, says the card network.
Visa says the first phase of the mobile fund transfer pilot will enable domestic money transfers within the US and will involve several Visa issuers and as many as 6000 account holders. Based on the finding of the first pilot, a second trial phase is expected to extend the scheme to include cross-border transactions during the first half of 2009.
Commenting on the programme, Elizabeth Buse, global head of product at Visa, says: "With more consumers relying on their mobile devices to simplify their everyday lives, Visa has a significant opportunity to streamline and secure the way people send and receive money."
The pilot is one of a number of mobile schemes that Visa is currently involved in. The card network is also reporting on an initiative to deliver payments applications - including contactless payments, remote payments, money transfer, alerts and notifications - for Nokia's NFC-enabled 6212 Classic handset.
The applications will first be made available for trial use by financial institutions and will allow consumers with the Nokia 6212 Classic to use their phones to pay for goods and services, initiate mobile money transfers to other Visa account-holders, receive text alerts and get offers and discounts from merchants.
"NFC-capable devices such as the Nokia 6212 Classic are set to change the way mobile phone users interact with devices and services in their surroundings," says Jeremy Belostock, head of near field communications, Nokia. "With our partnership with Visa, we're bringing the value of electronic payments and services directly into the mobile phone, making our customers' everyday lives more convenient."
In separate news Visa has added new functionality to its pre-paid reload network, Visa ReadyLink, which will enable US consumers to add funds to eligible prepaid cards at ATMs that accept envelope-free deposits.
The new service, which is set to roll out this autumn, will enable customers to adds funds to the card by inserting cash or paper cheques directly into the ATM.
Visa says more than 7000 merchant locations across the US have implemented its ReadyLink service since it first launched in 2006. The system supports the adoption of pre-paid products by helping meet the needs of financially underserved consumers - the more than 80 million consumers in the US who lack access to a payment card or a traditional banking relationship, and who rely heavily on cash for everyday transactions.
"Standing in long cheque-cashing lines and carrying around a week's wages in cash is often the norm for people without access to a payments card or bank account," says Brian Triplett, global head of prepaid products at Visa. "By bringing Visa ReadyLink first to retailers and now offering advancements to make reload capabilities available at ATMs, we can provide a much safer and easier alternative for cardholders."