NEW YORK (Reuters) - Wells Fargo & Co WFC.N and Visa Inc V.N plan to begin a test program that lets customers use smartphones to pay for purchases in stores, a Visa executive told Reuters on Wednesday.
The program is another step in efforts by Visa, the world’s largest transaction processing network, and major U.S. banks to create a “digital wallet,” with a host of financial capabilities built into the latest, most sophisticated mobile phones.
Wells Fargo is the third large U.S. bank to work with Visa on the tests, which will run through the end of this year. Bank of America Corp BAC.N and US Bancorp USB.N told Reuters in August that they would test technology that would allow customers to make in-store payments using smartphones.
Major U.S. banks, technology companies and cellphone providers are jockeying for the lead in the technology, which some say could become a primary means of everyday purchases.
Visa is also working with other banks to test the technology, Bill Gajda, Visa’s head of global mobile products, said in an interview on Wednesday.
“We want to be commercially ready early in 2011” to let consumers use their cellphones to make purchases in stores, he said.
Gajda would not discuss details of the timing or location of the Wells Fargo pilot but said the bank would be testing the same technology that Bank of America and US Bancorp are using in their pilots with Visa.
Wells Fargo spokeswoman Lisa Westermann confirmed via email that the company was running a test program with Visa. She declined to provide details.
Visa shares were up 2 percent at $70.35. Wells Fargo shares rose 3.7 percent to $24.43.
Reporting by Maria Aspan; editing by John Wallace
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