Convergence for the smartphone and credit card is nearer

Visa is now readying two sets of credit card payment services on separate continents for users of Android and Nokia smartphones. And there may be more convergence to come around mobile payments in various sectors of the globe.

On a brighter note than most of the other financial news in the world this week, Visa is planning new services for Android and Nokia smartphones that might ultimately make it possible to use your smartphone much like a credit card.

Initially available to Chase Manhattan Visa card holders in the US, the first services for Android phones -- dubbed Alerts, Offers, and Locator -- are slated for download by the end of this year.

Through Alerts, consumers will be able get "near real-time" notification of their credit card activity. Locator, on the other hand, will display locations of nearby stores and ATM's which accept Visa cards, presumably by means of Google Maps. Offers will make it possible to receive targeted ad offers.

Rolled out this week, the first Android-enabled phone, T-Mobile's G1, is eyed for availability on October 22. T-Mobile also plans additional Android phones.

Perhaps coincidentally, one of Android's first third-party applications, ShopSavvy, is designed to work with Google's search functionality to read bar codes on products such as boxes of software, and to then conduct price comparisons among online sites and brick-and-mortar retail stores. For the retail outlets, ShopSavvy provides street locations, in addition to pinpointing the stores on Google Maps.

Seemingly in response to governmental concerns right now about behavioral advertising, however, all three of Visa's services for Android phones will be provided on an opt-in basis only.

In a statement, Visa said it is also working on an application that will allow consumers to make mobile payments with Android phones.

Meanwhile, Visa is also working with Nokia on an application that will use built-in NFC (near field communications) chips -- built into some Nokia phones, but apparently not embedded in HTC's G1 -- to make payments simply by waving a phone in front of a reader. The Nokia announcement, however, did not mention any US banks.

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