Microsoft has launched its entry into the near-field communications (NFC) mobile payments space.
The Microsoft Wallet app will allow Windows Mobile users whose phones are equipped with NFC hardware to link their bank accounts and credit cards to their handsets for retail transactions.
Currently, the Wallet app is limited to a US trial of customers who have signed up for the Windows Insider program and are running the 14360 build or higher on the Lumia 650, 950, and 950 XL handsets.
Microsoft said that it will push the app into general availability later this summer.
Though the Microsoft payment platform is limited to just a few models and users currently, the underlying technology it will rely on is already widely deployed. Both Visa and MasterCard support the app, and the NFC payments will work at any retail location that is already set up to take mobile tap-to-pay transactions.
Will White, director of the Payments Team at Microsoft, said that Redmond is approaching the Wallet service as an extension of its other online store projects, such as those for games and software.
"In our digital stores today, whether it's Xbox, Office or the Windows Store, our customers enjoy the ease of signing in with a Microsoft account and having their secured payment information on hand to quickly and more safely purchase products," White wrote.
"Our customers have asked us to extend similar experiences to their phones and we are excited they can now enjoy easy, more-secure transactions with Microsoft Wallet and tap to pay on their Windows 10 Mobile phone."
The Wallet service will give Microsoft another app to match up with its competitors in the mobile space, albeit a considerably late arrival. Google's efforts to put NFC payments on Android date back to 2011, and more recently both Android and Apple have pushed out their respective "Pay" apps to widespread user adoption.
It will, however, take more than a Wallet app for Microsoft to claw its way back into a smartphone space in which it currently has a market share of under three per cent, and far behind the likes of iOS and Android. ®