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VISA to pilot SMS pre-paid top-up service with Upaid

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3GSM World Congress, CANNES - 18 February 2003 - Stand F1, Hall 2 - Upaid, a leading provider of mobile payment authentication and roaming services to mobile operators, banks and merchants, today announced it has entered into an agreement with Visa CEMEA (Central Europe, Middle East and Africa) to supply technology and services, enabling the market pilot of an SMS-based pre-paid top-up service in the region.

Visa intends to enable participating member banks and mobile operators to offer a Visa-branded service to their customers for the pre-paid top-up of mobile phones from debit or credit card accounts. Upaid is providing the technology and services that enable this end-to-end SMS top-up facility, which represents one of the first ASP top-up schemes to go live in the market.

Hilary Mitchell, Vice President e-Visa CEMEA, commented: 'We have put a considerable amount of effort into the selection process and are pleased that we will be able to go live with the service so quickly thanks to Upaid's expertise in this area. Visa examined a large number of solutions in its selection of a technology supplier for the service and is happy to work with Upaid on the project.'

Ashley Ward, CEO of Upaid, said: 'The fact that Upaid has been chosen against all the available competition demonstrates that our technology enabling an SMS-based top-up service is the most advanced on the market. We are delighted to partner with Visa in developing this service.'

Upaid technology, hosted at a centralised hub, interacts with both the operator's and bank's systems to authenticate the end-user based on his MSISDN and PIN. It handles the transfer of ISO 8583 authorisation and top-up message requests between the bank and the operator to enable the service. Pre-paid mobile users register for the service at their issuing bank and send a simple SMS message, containing an amount and PIN, to top-up their pre-paid phones from their Visa card account. Registered users may also top-up the prepaid accounts of family & friends using the service by sending an equally simple SMS-message.

Initially, the pilot will involve one bank, serving as both the acquiring and issuing bank and one mobile operator. The pilot will go live in the second quarter of 2003 when full details of the pioneering bank and GSM operator will be available. Plans to connect other parties to the ASP enabled by Upaid technology are underway.

About Visa
Visa is the world's leading payment brand. Visa-branded cards generate US$2.4 trillion in annual volume and are accepted at 30 million physical locations around the world, including 810,000 ATMs in more than 150 countries. The Visa organisation plays a pivotal role in developing innovative payment products and technologies to benefit its 21,000 member financial institutions and their cardholders. Visa is a leader in internet-based payments and is pioneering the creation of u-commerce, or universal commerce—the ability to conduct commerce anywhere, anytime, and in any way. For more information, visit

About Upaid
Upaid is the first company to offer a service enabling banks, operators and merchants to participate in an open mobile payments and roaming community. The company's proprietary technology enables multiple parties to plug into Upaid's centrally hosted authentication and service delivery centres and offer customers mobile payments and roaming anytime, anywhere. Upaid solves the connectivity problem that banks, operators, merchants and card associations face when seeking to offer wide-scale mobile payment and roaming services to their customers.

Upaid was founded in 1998 as a provider of technology for advanced pre-paid telephony systems. Since then, the company has developed solutions that can be deployed centrally to enable advanced mobile services, including pre-paid roaming, pre-paid top-up from bank accounts using SMS, IVR, Web and WAP, SMS-based bill payments and other mobile payment and roaming services.

Upaid has its headquarters in Paris with operational offices in the UK and Brazil. Upaid™ is a registered trademark of Upaid Systems, Ltd.

For further information, please contact :

Nick Giles or Sam Routley
MS&L;/ for Upaid
+44 (0)20 7878 3151 / 3137

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