Vodafone and Visa: NFC payments in 2013

Near Field Communication technology – or NFC – is a feature that’s been appearing more recently on a few devices (such as the Samsung Galaxy S III and the Nexus 4), but hasn’t had much use here in Australia.

NFC proponents have been banging the mobile payments drum for a while now, and while Google’s Wallet system has been available in the US for some time now, it’s yet to roll out anywhere else. A few of the major Australian banks have shown interest, with ANZ and Westpac both trialling NFC payment systems, but there’s been nothing publicly available so far. This all looks set to change, with Vodafone and Visa today announcing they’ve got their own system coming in 2013.

Vodafone SmartPass will allow customers to use their NFC-enabled smartphone like a credit card. In a similar vein to Visa’s current PayWave credit cards, users will be able to pay for products simply by waving their phones at the special EFTPOS receivers. SmartPass will use a special secure element built into a SIM card to hopefully avoid any unpleasant credit card fraud incidents.

Users will be able to acquire a special NFC-SIM from Vodafone, download the SmartPass app on their NFC-enabled phone, use the app to register for a ‘virtual’ Visa reloadable prepaid card and then pre-load funds onto it from an existing card. Once that’s done, you’re all set.

Vodafone and Visa seem pretty excited about their technology, claiming that total global NFC payments are estimated to “reach more than $110 billion in 2015″. While we’ll have to wait to see whether that is the case, this is certainly a step in the right direction. Hopefully this will trigger the start of a lot more NFC implementation here in Australia.

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About the author

Joel lives in a small country town, four hours south of Perth, where he works at the local newspaper, as well as volunteering at a nearby community radio station. He has had a great interest in Android for some time... (read more)


  • PointZeroOne

    This sounds awesome and I really like the idea of it being prepaid.

  • http://twitter.com/tfqkhn Taufiq Khan

    CommBank Kaching users have been doing NFC payments for a year now, albeit on iPhone only using an NFC case. Access to the NFC secure element on Android is locked down by Telcos so not on Android yet…

  • Angry Fran

    I’d rather 4G state-wide than gimicky payment things thanks Vodafone.

    • PointZeroOne

      It isn’t a gimmick. It’s a feature that NFC enabled phones can take great advantage of.

  • http://espadav8.co.uk Andrew

    Really looking forward to this. Would be great to be able to use the phone as a credit card, go card, library card, etc. without needing to carry a wallet around too :-)

  • nicholas

    love technology but I don’t think this is the right implementation.

    seems pretty hard going. Instead of getting a new sim, setting up a virtual card, then transferring funds onto it, I could just wave my existing Visa card that has PayPass (payWave?) on it.

    unlike Google Wallet, this doesn’t seem to promise any sort of card loyalty scheme where all your vouchers, coupons, points etc.. get counted when you wave your phone over the terminal.

    • PointZeroOne

      Bank I’m with doesn’t have PayPass thing yet.

    • GingerNutter

      it doesn’t promise yet no… but give em time I’m sure thats what the app will be utilized for. But yeah I agree seems long winded. Surely all one would need is a authorization code from the bank to be coded into the phone and away you go.