A telecommunications group including Verizon Wireless and AT&T Inc. (T) hired Michael J Abbot, a former executive with General Electric (GE), to run a venture that will let consumers pay for purchases using their smartphone.

Abbot, who was previously the chief marketing officer for GE's U.S. retail consumer-finance business, will be the CEO of the new venture, Bloomberg News reported.

The group, which also includes T-Mobile, is working with Discover Financial Services (DFS) and Barclays Plc (BSC) to allow people to pay retailers via their phone, rather than using cash or plastic.

A similar service is already available in Japan, Turkey and the U.K.

Discover's network would process the purchases.

The decision to hire Abbot "should definitely cause MasterCard and Visa to take this initiative very seriously," said Philip Philliou, at payments-industry consulting firm Philliou Selwanes Partners. "You have someone who understands consumer payments, as opposed to this being someone from the telecom industry."


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