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In the not too distant future, consumers will be able to purchase fast food via beams of infrared light. There are about 150 million portable devices capable of infrared messaging in use around the world. Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs), such as Palm units, are the most popular handheld infrared devices used by Americans. VISA has decided to help push the development of this emerging payments technology. This week, VISA International announced it has developed specifications to enable payments to be beamed securely from a handheld device to a merchant terminal using the infrared technology.The VISA Financial Messaging Profile for Proximity Payment specifications will enable application developers and card issuers to develop new payment services for consumers who use portable devices such as mobile phones and PDAs. The new VISA specifications are built upon the Point and Pay Protocol developed by the Infrared Financial Messaging Group. VISA says adding the VISA option to mobile phones and PDAs will expedite payments for consumers travelling or in a hurry, such as taxis, parking garages, and fast food restaurants. The specifications will be available from 21 January at http://www.visa.com/specs-downloads.

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