Microsoft Reportedly Planning Mobile Payments for Windows Phone 7

The world’s leading smartphone makers are rapidly accelerating their adoption of mobile payment technologies that will enable their handsets and mobile operating systems to better compete in the not so distant future – a future, many believe, that will be dominated by mobile payments across the retail landscape.

Two sources close to Microsoft indicate that Microsoft is presently – and aggressively – working toward a version of its Windows Phone software that will deliver mobile payment functionality.

The development could be a powerful one for Microsoft, which currently boasts only 5.5% of the competitive mobile operating system market. The first devices sporting mobile-payment technology could debut as early as this year, the sources tell Bloomberg.

As it now stands, Microsoft controls 14 patents referencing NFC. That’s according to the U.S. Patent Office.

Microsoft is likely to get support in its mobile payments effort from Nokia Oyj, the handset maker that recently said it will use Windows Phone software on its devices. Nokia said it will make NFC a standard feature of its 2011 smartphones based on the Symbian operating system.

ABI Research estimates that NFC-enabled phones will double in 2012. Gartner, meanwhile, predicts that by 2014, 340 million global wireless users will use mobile payments.