American Express, MasterCard International, Visa International and Japan's JCB said they are working together to make mobile transactions standardized and secure.
The group, known as the "Mobile Payment Forum," said it will address areas such as interoperability, passwords, cardholder authentication and encryption methods.
The forum's members will include financial institutions, telecommunications operators, wireless-device makers, retail businesses, and software and hardware developers. The group didn't say what technology partners are involved with the consortium thus far.
The troubled economy has eaten away at projections for mobile e-commerce over the past year; last May, a survey by industry researcher A.T. Kearney found that only about 10 percent of all cell phone users planned to use the mobile Internet to make purchases. That was down sharply from an estimated 33 percent as of June 2000.
But companies haven't given up on making wireless shopping a reality. Nokia and IBM recently collaborated on a project that will let people in Finland buy items on the Web using cell phones as soon as the end of this year. Visa and Aether Networks have also partnered to develop e-commerce applications on pagers, cellular phones and other handheld devices.
This also wouldn't be the first time major credit card companies have stepped in and taken up what smaller technology companies failed to do in online shopping. It took a push from major credit card companies to make e-commerce a reality in the first place, as they squashed alternate Web currency companies such as Beenz and Flooz that had hoped to capture the e-tailing payment sector.