Raising the stakes in a race to develop payment systems over wireless networks, Visa has signed an agreement with French smart card giant Gemplus that would enable Visa to offer mobile payment services through GSM phones, the Global System for Mobile communications standard, by yearend.

The alliance is another step in Visa's wireless strategy. The San Francisco-based card association has been working with the Swedish mobile company Ericsson to embed credit card information directly in a mobile device. And last month it signed a marketing and technology development agreement with the Finnish cellular phone maker Nokia.

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