Apple partners with Mastercard and Visa on mobile wallet

Will launch smartphone payments service next week, according to reports

Apple has struck deals with Visa, Mastercard and American Express as part of plans to launch of a mobile wallet that will enable payments via smartphone devices, according to reports.

The Cupertino firm is expected to announce partnerships with a range of payment providers, banks and retailers when the iPhone 6 is launched next week, according to Bloomberg sources, in a move that will see it go up against the likes of Google Wallet and PayPal.

The report comes as speculation builds over Apple's backing of smartphone payments. Last week it was claimed that Apple has agreed a deal with Ducth semiconductor firm NXP to supply near field communication (NFC) chips that will enable users of the next iPhone to purchase goods and services by tapping the devices against an NFC-enabled terminal.

Apple CEO Tim Cook said earlier this year that mobile payments could be the next "big thing" for the company, with the firm making internal and external staff moves to enhance its payments capabilties.

Despite a number of smartphone vendors including NFC chips in their handsets, such as Apple's main rival Samsung, the market for mobile payments is yet to take off in a significant way.

Apple, which is preparing to launch the latest version of its phone in September, is considered to be in a good position to drive adoption of mobile payments, and already holds card details for 800 million customer details through iTunes and the App Store.

In the UK there have been recent moves to drive adoption of NFC smartphone payments, using the 300,000 terminals currently available in retail stores for transactions via contactless credit and debit cards. Weve, a joint venture between three of the UK's largest mobile operators, Vodafone, EE and O2, hopes to popularise mobile payments when it launches fully next year.

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