The Irish online payment processor WorldNet TPS says the payment card acceptance application it introduced this week for Apple Inc.'s iPhone is the first such service available in Europe.

WorldNet has offered an online version of its card-acceptance application for 12 months, and it "seemed a logical extension to take the virtual terminal into the mobile world," said Will Byrne, WorldNet's CEO.

WorldNet VT works only with card-not-present transactions; the company is developing versions that will work on other smart phones.

Because many European nations have adopted the EMV Integrated Circuit Card Specification, Byrne said, the next step would be to add EMV support for card-present transactions.

Many merchants are interested in mobile phone-based payment applications because the devices can handle a variety of functions, he said, while traditional wireless-payment terminals have just one purpose, accepting payment cards.

The potential number of mobile merchants is large, but Byrne noted that the European market has 26 nations, each with a unique banking system. WorldNet's initial focus will be on the more than 500,000 mobile merchants in Ireland and the United Kingdom.

WorldNet also is in talks to bring its iPhone virtual terminal to two other European markets that Byrne declined to name. The application is available through Apple's iTunes store for $5.23. Merchants pay a one-time activation fee of $130 and a monthly service fee of $1. They also must pay a 34-cent transaction fee to WorldNet on top of standard processing fees.