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Retalix (Nasdaq:RTLX) and Lipman Electronic Engineering today announced agreement to launch a joint venture to market a new technology that simplifies the process of purchasing pre-paid cellular air-time.

The two companies co-developed a system allowing users to buy pre-paid airtime directly at the point of sale, rather than use magnetic calling cards.

Airtime is bought by charging the cellphone at a point of sale, through inputting a personal phone number on either Retalix POS terminals or Lipman credit-card terminals.

Establishing the JV is still contingent on approval of the two companies' boards.

Pre-paid mobile phone sales have been soaring in Europe, the companies say, now running at some 75% of all new purchases. In Israel, that figure is 35%. The relatively low-cost system is mostly popular among children, foreign workers and tourists.

Lipman engages in electronic payment systems under the NURIT brand name.

"Retailers who currently own our NURIT terminal will benefit from an additional income stream, while the cellular manufacturers will see a potential reduction in production and distribution costs by eliminating the need for pre-paid phone cards," Lipman CEO Isaac Angel said.