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Philips, Visa advance wireless pay cards

The companies detail plans to further develop an emerging wireless technology that aims to let shoppers pay everywhere they want to pay--without opening their wallets.

LAS VEGAS--Philips Semiconductor and Visa International detailed plans to further develop an emerging short-range wireless technology that aims to let shoppers pay everywhere they want to pay--without opening their wallets.

Visa and the chip division of Royal Philips Electronics last year announced an alliance to work together on Near Field Communications (NFC) technology. At the Consumer Electronics Show here Thursday, the two companies demonstrated the fruits of their labors thus far and announced that content providers and consumer electronics makers will be adding the technology to their products.

"There will be a rolling string of announcements, from content providers and product makers, in the coming year," Philips Semiconductor Chief Scott McGregor said.

According to partnership terms, Philips will provide the chips, and Visa will convince merchants to support the technology. For merchants, the technology will mean that customers will be able to get out of a store faster, because the technology lets them pay for items simply by swiping an NFC card over a reader.

Philips and Visa hope that NFC will expand the ways consumers pay for products or services. The companies expect consumer electronics makers to put chips that use the technology into products so that consumers will be able to pay for items using a cell phone and through their Visa accounts, for example. Sony is working to add the NFC technology to its products.

The secure technology uses radio waves to send and receive the data used in a transaction, according to McGregor. The NFC chips are expected to cost tens of cents.

Philips is working with content providers such as Vivendi Universal to use the technology.

Philips and Visa share a common vision that consumers someday will be able to pay for physical and digital services anywhere, at any time and on any device, according to Gaylon Howe, an executive vice president at Visa.

"Anything that has to do with payments, we want to be involved in and understand," Howe said.