Visa has announced that its NFC payment system is now certified for use in LG, Samsung and RIM smartphones.

The payWave application allows consumers to use their mobile to pay for goods at the point-of-sale.

Visa has added the Samsung Galaxy SII, LG Optimus NET NFC, BlackBerry Bold 9900, BlackBerry Bold 9790, BlackBerry Curve 9360 and BlackBerry Curve 9380 to the list of compliant payment products for use by financial institutions.

But while it doesn’t mean that anyone with a Galaxy SII can immediately start paying for their lunch by swiping their mobile at the till, it does pave the way for the roll out of NFC smartphone payments.

It is now down to the manufacturers, operators, retailers and banks to come up with a way for this to work.

Although there is no official timescale, Visa has said that now the security checks have been carried out it expects NFC smartphone payments to be available this year. 

For consumers who do not own one of the LG, Samsung or RIM phones certified in today’s announcement, Visa said it is working on bringing its iCarte NFC payment system to all of its European customers.

iCarte is a thin plastic case that clips onto iPhone and Blackberry handsets with an embedded microchip that enables NFC payments through an iCarte app.

Visa’s push to enable NFC payments is part of its plan to make the London 2012 Olympics the first contactless games.

Samsung and Visa are major sponsors of the Olympics and are using the event to promote their mobile payment systems – there are 60,000 contactless payment locations in London and with millions of tourists in town for the games it is the perfect place to add momentum to the roll out of mobile payments globally.

This is certainly a market worth investigating – technology analysis firm Yankee Group predicts the value of NFC transactions will grow from $27m in 2010 to $40bn in 2014.

But there is still some scepticism about NFC’s immediate future. 

MEF, the global community for mobile content and commerce, predicted that NFC payments will fail to gain a commercial foothold in 2012 as the consumer benefits have yet to be demonstrated.

NFC will also have to overcome security concerns – research from IT solutions company Iconnyx shows that 47% of retailers believe that security is the biggest technology issue that faces them in 2012.