Vodafone launching Visa PayWave SmartPass wallet app next year

Vodafone Visa Smartpass app
Paying with your smartphone soon to be a reality

Starting next year, Vodafone customers with an NFC-enabled smartphone like the Samsung Galaxy S III will be able to buy stuff without having to take out their wallet.

Vodafone today unveiled its SmartPass application, a dedicated app that will come pre-loaded on NFC-enabled Android smartphones from next year that will enable mobile payments for all mobile users.

The app functions as a digital wallet, allowing you to transfer funds from any Visa or Mastercard account from any bank to the SmartPass account, which can then be used to pay for items at any location with a Visa PayWave of Mastercard PayPass contactless terminal.

Transfers to the SmartPass account can be done manually, or an automatic top-up can be set up so there is always cash available to buy stuff with your phone.

A maximum of $1000 can be transferred to the SmartPass account, offering some level of protection against huge cash losses as well.

Secure and mobile

To make the system work, users will need a special NFC-SIM card from Vodafone. The SIM card includes an empty pre-paid credit account from ANZ that you set up when you first launch the app.

For users concerned about security, the app allows for additional passcodes to be entered before making a payment, although it isn't mandatory for those who prefer convenience.

Should users lose their phone, Vodafone has a special SmartPass help desk that can cancel the account - just like if the phone was a credit card in itself.

There will also be a web portal for managing all account settings.

Vodafone is betting big on this payment technology. As of next year, at least 80 per cent of handsets available on contract on the network will have NFC chips inside.

While there's no firm date to launch the SmartPass app and mobile payment system, Vodafone claims it will be spending the next few months engaging in intensive trials to make sure everything works exactly as planned.

Having spent the past decade editing some of Australia's leading technology publications, Nick's passion for the latest gadgetry is matched only by his love of watching Australia beat England in the rugby.