The latest forecast of mobile payment growth, from U.K. research company Visiongain, calls for $150 billion in mobile-phone-generated payments to take place globally by the end of this year. This is significantly larger than the estimate Gartner came out with last month, which predicted that worldwide mobile payment volume would total $86.1 billion in 2011.

According to Visiongain, today there are around 140 million mobile payment users globally. Visiongain expects the global mobile payment market to grow from $150 billion this year to $556 billion in 2016 at a compound annual growth rate of 30%.

The Visiongain report notes that near-field communications, the short-range wireless technology many payment ventures are testing as a way of sending payment information from mobile device to payment terminal, is emerging as the most popular m-payment technology so far. It cites the NFC service PayPal introduced for Samsung's Nexus S Android phones as a primary example.

Visiongain believes that by 2016, 658 million mobile phones will be enabled with NFC. The trials and testing of major players like Spanish telecom company Telefonica, Google and Apple are moving the payment method forward.

Most of the mobile payment transactions Visiongain analyzed for this report were digital commerce purchases, such as the buying of ringtones, games, music and other software items that reside on phones. Other transaction examples include parking, transit fares, fast food purchases, groceries, restaurant meals, and sporting and entertainment events.