So often, technology companies come up with a solution in need of a compelling application. In the case of mobile payments, it's the other way round - for starters, there are 200 million migrant workers who need to send money back to their families as well as many, many millions all over the world who haven't got access to banking.
Initiative after initiative has been announced (cf the GSM Association's announcement in Barcelona in 2007)
Now Visa has announced it is collaborating on mobile payments system with Nokia and Google Android. It doesn't like it's going to help developing economies either: the services will only be offered Chase Visa card holders in the US, although Visa says it plans to add more banks later.
According to the IDG news service, Visa will initially offer three services, Alerts, Offers and Locator, which will be available for download before the end of the year.
With Alerts consumers will receive what Visa calls 'near real-time' notification of purchase activity, based on rules defined by the cardholder.
Offers and Locator will make it possible for users to receive targeted offers, based on for example previous purchases, and show consumers nearby locations of shops or ATMs that accepts Visa. The two functions can also be combined. Consumers would opt in to the services, only activating those they choose, and would be able to opt out at any time, according to Visa.
Visa is also developing a payment application that will enable consumers to make mobile payments with Android phones.
The trouble is, in developed economies (emerging economies are often a different story) mobile phone makers and Visa are likely to have a hard time getting retailers to support it.
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