The Australian telcos – Optus, Telstra and Vodafone — all provided indications of a more concerted effort to make contactless mobile payments a bigger play in 2013. 

However, they have not indicated that their projects would lead to a joint venture such as Isis in the U.S. and Weve in the UK.

Telstra, for example, predicts mobile payments based on Near Field Communication, the same technology Isis and Google use for their mobile wallets.

"It's been promised for a long time, but by next year many devices on the market will incorporate Near Field Communication," Telstra chief technology officer Hugh Bradlow told The Australian news website.

"NFC has been a slow burn, but it will likely become entrenched next year and we plan to be a big part of that," Bradlow said.

Vodafone Australia predicts 80 percent of all smartphones sold on its network in 2013 will be NFC-enabled.

In the meantime, Optus released details of its new partnership with Visa and Heritage Bank to introduce mobile phone contactless payments through Visa's PayWave technology.

Optus is currently testing the product, called the M-Wallet, and plans to introduce it commercially in 2013, according to the Ausoroid website, which covers Android phone news in Australia.

The M-Wallet system will operate similar to Isis in the U.S. in that it will utilize an NFC-enabled SIM card, rather than the secure element on the mobile phone. The SIM card will carry all of the Visa debit card information and a mobile pay application that will load on the phones, the site reports. The SIM card will be protected by the same EMV chip technology used in credit and debit smart cards around the world.

The Australian telcos' enthusiasm was bolstered at year's end by a November report from the Australian Communications and Media Authority that revealed smartphone ownership in the country had almost doubled in the 12 months prior to July 2012. The authority says 49% of Australians now possess a smartphone, as compared to 25% in July of 2011.

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