Vivotech Inc., Bell ID and PPC Card Systems BV are teaming up to launch a mass-market rollout of Near Field Communication mobile-payment services in Europe in the second quarter of 2011, Santa Clara, Calif.-based Vivotech announced Dec. 2.

Within the past year, the mobile-payments market has grow considerably, and payments-industry executives now predict dramatic growth in the next two years (see story).

Europe’s mobile-payment market especially seems to be heating up, as several companies are testing NFC-enabled phones. Barclaycard in March announced plans to deploy mobile phones enabled with NFC payment technology in conjunction with France-based mobile-network operator Orange (see story).

Additionally, France-based chipmaker Gemalto NV in May announced a partnership with Orange to provide NFC-payment technology to the mobile-network operator’s phones (see story).

NFC supports two-way communication with other NFC chips, enabling users to download coupons, discounts and rewards for redemption at the point of sale.

Many companies traditionally begin with a test phase, but Bell ID, Vivotech and PPC Card Systems plan instead to hit the market with a full rollout right away.

“Vivotech has done more than 35 field pilots, and we are now ready to provide a commercial rollout of the service,” Mohammad Kahn, Vivotech president and founder, tells PaymentsSource. Banks and mobile operators, however, still have the option to start with limited rollouts, he adds.

The service will enable mobile-network operators, banks and service providers to offer consumers mobile application services for payments, ticketing, transit-access and marketing, Vivotech said in a news release about the partnership.

The NFC-enabled service is leveraging Netherlands-based Bell ID’s smart card management application, which will prepare the smart card and contactless data for PPC Card Systems, Kahn says.

Vivotech is providing the mobile-wallet component that holds credit, debit or prepaid card information, over-the-air and trusted service manager services, and coupon and loyalty redemption software. Netherlands-based PPC Card Systems will enable banks to download their credit, debit or prepaid cards remotely and will run Vivotech’s software from its EMV-certified data center, Kahn adds.

The trusted service manager enables banks and mobile-phone carriers to integrate the payment information into a mobile phone.

Consumers will be able to purchase NFC-enabled phones already loaded with electronic-wallet software or buy contactless accessories for their existing phones, such as non-NFC MicroSD contactless chips from stores or banks, Kahn says.

Consumers potentially may not pay to use the service, although no set decisions have been made,” Kahn says.

“The time for pilots is over,” Todd Ablowitz, president of Double Diamond Group, a Centennial, Colo.-based consulting firm, tells PaymentsSource. “Commercial programs are what enables mobile commerce to take off, Ablowitz adds.

Not only are all the pieces coming together, but consumers are ready for mobile payments, Ablowitz says. “There are over 5 billion mobile-phone users in the world, and these users are able to use their phones for more than just making calls and sending texts and e-mails,” he says.

Using mobile phones as a payment device or electronic wallet is the next natural step in the payments ecosystem, Ablowitz contends.

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