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Visa to speed up migration to mobile wallet

A server processes a Visa transaction.

Chris Bolin Photography Inc./The Globe and Mail

Visa Inc. said it would accelerate the move to chip technology and speed up the use of mobile payments in the United States, as the world's largest payment processor tries to corner a share in the nascent smartphone payments market.

High-end smartphones are now shipping with "near-field communication" (NFC) technology that allows shoppers to make payments with little more than a wave of their phone.

NFC technology passes encrypted information between devices at close range without contact. Instead of swiping a card, shoppers can wave their smartphone near a terminal, effectively turning an NFC-enabled phone into a "mobile wallet."

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"As NFC mobile payments and other chip-based emerging technologies are poised to take off in the coming years, we are taking steps today to create a commercial framework that will support growth opportunities," Jim McCarthy, Visa's global head of product, said in a statement.

With a new method of payments poised to take off, technology giants like Google and mobile service providers such as Sprint Nextel are also jostling for a share of the pie.

Last month, Isis, a venture of three of the top four U.S. mobile providers, said it plans to launch mobile payments services with major payment networks Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express.

Isis, which plans to kick off its service in the first half of 2012, will compete with Google and Sprint Nextel, which plan to launch services this summer.

Visa said it would continue to support a range of cardholder verification methods, including signature and PIN methods.

Chip payments are generally considered to be more secure and can reduce the payment processor's fraud costs.

Visa also intends to institute a U.S. liability shift for domestic and cross-border counterfeit card-present point-of-sale (POS) transactions, effective October 1, 2015.

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