When it comes to the inevitability of wireless e-cash on mobile phones, we don't want to run the risk of sounding smug, but we really did tell you so.

The latest country to follow Japan's lead and take mobile e-payments mainstream is Mexico, where a series of new partnerships will soon see phones being used to pay for everything from newspapers to restaurant bills.

Trendsetters

Citigroup and other financial institutions have teamed up with mobile operators Telefonica and Lusacell to offer the service to young customers at first.

If technology-aware trendsetters can show the value of mobile e-cash, the thinking is that it will make it easier for it to catch on in the general population.

Unlike the more high-tech RFID-based systems used in Japan and Korea, the Mexican system uses SMS to authenticate payments.

SMS link to bank

After initially linking their phone to a bank account, users pay for goods and services simply by sending a text message verifying the amount to a number associated with the seller.

Regardless of the success or otherwise of the Mexican scheme, it clearly won't be long before mobile e-payments make it big in Europe and the US too.