Visa Europe announced plans to launch a tokenisation service “customised for the needs of the European market”, which is slated to become available for its member banks from mid-April 2015.

The payments platform provider said it developed the service “to meet an increasing demand from consumers to use their latest smartphones and wearable devices for payments”.

A report from Reuters speculates the new service could pave the way for Apple Pay in Europe, along with rival mobile payment services, in coming months.

Visa Inc, along with rivals MasterCard and American Express, has allied itself with Apple by enabling mobile payments via tokenisation on Apple Pay, which launched in the US in October 2014.

Visa Inc and Visa Europe are separate companies, although the former is also talking up the prospects for tokenisation.

So far, Apple Pay is only available in the US, amidst speculation where it will be launched next.

Tokenisation is becoming increasingly popular to address security concerns around mobile and online payments. By substituting the payment account information found on a plastic card with a series of numbers that can be used to authorise payment without exposing actual account details, customer data can be protected. When consumers use their mobile device to make a contactless payment in a store, a token is submitted, rather than their account details.

“Tokenisation is one of the most important technologies to emerge in digital payments and has the potential to start a whole new chapter in the kinds of products that are developed,” said Sandra Alzetta, executive director (core products) for Visa Europe.

Visa Europe added that the new service will allow financial institutions to control the environments where the token can be used – for example, a token set up only for contactless payments cannot be used to make an online purchase.

Additionally, if a mobile device is lost or stolen, a token can be easily and promptly disabled.