Starting in September, Bank of America customers will be eligible for a test program allowing them to pay for store purchases using their smartphones. The country’s largest consumer bank is partnering with Visa to run the pilot in the New York area, marking the biggest step the two companies have taken so far to create a “digital wallet” with a range of financial capabilities.
Visa will undertake a similar test program in October with US Bancorp. The United States has been slow to deploy mobile payment technologies that have been used in countries like Japan, the United Kingdom, Turkey, and South Korea for years. A Bank of America spokesperson said payments from smartphones are a “critical capability” since users have accepted and adopted bank services from their mobile phones.
A select group of employees and customers in the New York area will be chosen to install small chips supplied from Visa and its technology partners into their smartphones, which will send radio signals over short distances. Customers will need to wave their handset near point-of-sale devices in stores in order for their bank data to be collected and to complete their purchases. The bank did not release figures on how many people would participate in the pilot.
If the pilot goes well, the service may be expanded, a Bank of America spokesperson told Bloomberg. Among the retailers that can accept mobile payments are McDonald’s, Burger King, Home Depot, Walgreens, and CVS, as well as New York City taxis, the spokesman said.