Visa Europe has teamed with NFC specialist Wireless Dynamics on a system that turns iPhones into contactless mobile payments systems.
The system requires iPhone users to attach Wireless Dynamics' iCarte accessory - provided by participating banks and mobile operators - that contains an antenna and an embedded 'Secure Element' where the Visa mobile 'card' is stored. The card works in conjunction with a companion Visa mobile application that can be downloaded from the App store.
Once the Visa mobile card is activated, users can make purchases by launching the app and touching their iPhone on any contactless-enabled point of sale terminal across Europe.
The pair have already teamed with Yapi Kredi bank and Turkcell to launch the system in Turkey while a UK trial is taking place with Visa staff in London with partners FIS and Coventry Building Society.
Sandra Alzetta, SVP, head, innovation, Visa Europe, says: "Given that the availability of a wide range of mobile devices supporting contactless services remains a key hurdle for take-up, we are overcoming this obstacle by bringing the capability to the iPhones already in their pockets."
In the US, Visa is working with another vendor, DeviceFidelity, on a system that turns handsets into contactless payments devices using In2Pay Micro-SD chips inserted into memory card slots. Bank of America, US Bancorp and Wells Fargo are all running trials with the technology.
It is also widely expected that the iPhone 5 will come with built-in contactless payments functionality, with the firm recently hiring NFC expert Benjamin Vigier as product manager for mobile commerce.