Contenders in the nascent mobile payments market are beginning to roll out services to support a product that does not yet exist — configuring the near field communication, or NFC, chips inside mobile phones so they can be used to make payments.

The card network MasterCard Inc. and the mobile banking software vendor Monitise PLC have introduced in the past two weeks over-the-air provisioning services, as this capability is known, though only a smattering of NFC handsets are available today and the best industry guesses are that it will be two to three years, at the least, before enough devices are in consumers' hands to support a viable mobile payments business.

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