Your next Galaxy S smartphone might also be your Visa card. Photo: Visa Europe
Barcelona: Your next Galaxy S smartphone might also be your Visa card. That's because Visa and Samsung announced Monday that Visa's NFC payment system will be built into all future Samsung smartphones.
This is a big win for Visa, Samsung and viability of NFC payments. Visa is one of the leaders in the mobile payments space and Samsung is the world's biggest smartphone maker. Together, the two have a solid chance of making mobile payments a global reality.
Visa is going to power the secure element that runs on Samsung's NFC devices. The secure element is what allows a payment processor (such as Visa) to talk to a bank.
Apps and wallets can be developed for any number of payment processors and banks (not just Visa) to work with Visa's secure element inside Samsung phones. The benefit is that by certifying Samsung devices as able to work with Visa's existing infrastructure, a big part of the battle for getting NFC payments sorted out is won.
Visa has agreements with lots of mobile payment systems. Visa Europe's John White told us that the company expects to support more than 40 mobile payment systems in Europe by the end of 2013.
Visa also works with Isis, the mobile-payment consortium backed by US carriers Verizon Wireless, AT&T and T-Mobile. Isis supports payments from Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express.
A big blow to Google Wallet
Visa getting control of the secure element in Samsung smartphones is a big blow to Google Wallet. Since launching on the Sprint Galaxy Nexus, Google has had a hard time getting widespread adoption of its flavor of NFC.
That's because a big part of Google's plan is to keep control of the secure element inside NFC-enabled smartphones. As a result, it's run into trouble with Verizon, which has blocked Google Wallet from its NFC-enabled Android handsets.
That has put Google in a precarious situation where even its Nexus-branded smartphones on Verizon don't have Google Wallet.
With Samsung choosing Visa — a company that supports more payment types and has more relationships with banks and carriers — Google Wallet's chances of success look a lot smaller.
Good news for mobile payments
While Visa hooking up with Samsung may be bad news for Google Wallet, the deal has a huge upside for consumers. Essentially this means that someone who buys a Samsung Galaxy S IV anywhere in the world will have a good chance at being able to use NFC payments via Visa with a local payment platform.
This is exactly the sort of boost NFC needs to really take off in the payments space in the U.S. and other regions that have been reluctant to adopt it.
What do you think of Visa and Samsung's bid for mobile payment domination? Let us know in the comments.
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