Visa Wave 1, MasterCard PayPass 0

It looks like Visa is planning a major coup against MasterCard in the UK, with ambitious plans to rollout an RFID-enabled Visa card system over the course of 2007.

Like PayPass and Transport for London's OysterCard, the Visa Wave system is a contactless smart card that can be `waved' at a terminal when a short distance away, and small value transactions charged to your debit/credit account.

The Wave system will be launched in the summer of 2007 and be available to all customers of UK banks and card issuers, giving them a second Visa card to carry in their wallets.

What's interesting about Visa Wave is that Visa says that users won't normally need a PIN to use the card, but its network will ask for a PIN to be entered if a number of transactions occur and its computers start getting worried.

According to Visa, it has announced plans for the Wave card in preparation for the London Lympics in 2012, when it says it hopes most transactions in London, even small value ones, will be electronic.

Somehow I think I'll be buying my copy of the Evening Standard at Kings Cross station using cash for several years to come, despite Visa's fine plans for its Wave card...