MasterCard MasterPass targets mobile m-payments market

25 February 2013

At the start of the Mobile World Congress (MWC) trade show in Barcelona today, MasterCard unveiled its MasterPass entry into the mobile m-payments market. MasterPass incorporates both a digital wallet for consumers and a mobile-friendly checkout for merchants online and in-store, positioning the card scheme as a full ecosystem provider.

Users will not require a MasterCard credit card to make mobile m-payments or accrue loyalty points using the MasterPass app, which it is hoped will be fully rolled out within two years. It will start via financial institution (FI) partners in Australia and Canada by the end of March, and come to US and UK banks and partners in spring and summer respectively, says MasterCard.

Launch partners include BNP Paribas, Banco Santander, Citi, Swedbank, UniCredit and Westpac, which have all signed up to support the service. UK High Street retailers, Argos and Boots will take in-store or online payments, and American Airlines in the US is also participating, with more large companies expected to join later.

Visa is thought likely to make an announcement about its rival digital wallet service later this week at the huge MWC trade show, meaning MasterCard appears have stolen a march on its rival, but the Google and Apple Wallets and many others are of course already battling for traction in this evolving marketplace. Just last week, PayPal Here with its chip and PIN functionality was unveiled in the UK to target the small-to-medium seized enterprise (SME) market segment for m-payment acceptance battling existing offerings from Square and iZettle.

The MasterPass mobile wallet will let consumers keep all their payment and loyalty card details on one app, allied to their security procedures and home address. The ecosystem will also be open to other cards and payment systems, such as Maestro in the UK.

For merchants, there is a digital checkout service to encourage uptake utilising the firm’s existing PayPass near filed communication (NFC) acceptance infrastructure in stores or a barcode-like QR code for promotions or quick transactions. Online there will be a MasterPass payment option.

The Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2013 trade show starts today in Barcelona, Spain, and runs all week. Bobsguide has a reporter at MWC 2013 and will produce a subsequent full report on it, with follow-up interviews and articles to come. Please visit our blog section. For last year's 2012 show report please click here.

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