What's needed to really get people hooked on contactless payments? Lots and lots of industry support. Google Wallet has set the bar for what's possible with NFC in the smartphone, and now Visa is making a play to expand their own reach for when the time comes to take advantage. The company recently acquired South African firm Fundamo, with the purchase costing Visa a staggering $110 million.
Separately, a 5-year deal with UK-based Monitise will help it "grow the new technology-enabled payments business." Since Visa's currently outside of the Google Wallet loop (and instead is taking part in ISIS), they'll need as much support as they can get in order to go up against the monster. The Fundamo purchase will help spread Visa's wings in developing nations across Latin America, Asia and Africa, while the Monitise deal will boost their deliver of "mobile financial services to its account holders both in the U.S. and outside."
It's interesting to see these companies so gung-ho about mobile payments all of a sudden. This stuff has been popular in nations like Japan for years, but it's become all the rage in U.S. just recently. Will phones really replace credit cards? Only time will tell, but we have a feeling we are still years off from something like that happening. Not a bad idea for Visa to get a jump on everything, though.