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Vodafone has launched a 'mobile wallet' payment system, which lets smartphone users make payments using their handsets instead of cash or cards.

The mobile phone company has teamed up with Visa to unveil the new technology, which will let shoppers pay for goods and services by simply waving/tapping their smartphone at a checkout.

The mobile wallet is expected to be made available in the UK this autumn, before a worldwide launch in spring 2013, on Near Field Communications-enabled smartphones. The service will use Visa payWave mobile technology, and will be based on the Visa prepaid account available to people who use the Vodafone stored value account.

Mobile wallet technology has been hailed as the next step in the smartphone 'revolution', which could change the way people pay for items and, in the future, receive money in their bank accounts. Users will be able to simply swipe their phone at a payment terminal when making smaller purchases - but they'll have to enter a PIN for items that cost £15 or more.

Vittorio Colao, Vodafone's chief executive, said that this new mobile payments system will offer customers "speed, simplicity and convenience", while Visa said the mobile wallet could potentially 'transform' the way people make payments across the globe.

Although most smartphones don't currently have the Near Field Communications (NFC) technology that the service needs, Vodafone has called it the 'next big thing in smartphones'.

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