MasterPass Payment Technology

February saw credit card giants Visa and MasterCard both launch the next phase of their ‘contactless payments’ strategy. The 64% of Australians who own a smartphone can look forward to a smoother experience whether they are paying online or over the counter by the end of the month according to reports.

Media reports began on February 25 stating that Visa will be partnering with smartphone manufacturer Samsung, and when it is released the Samsung Galaxy SIV will also be able to act as a smartphone holder’s Visa card.  Near Field Communications (NFC) technology is to be fitted to new Samsung ‘S’ series phones as standard, meaning Visa Paywave will be automatically downloaded in new devices.

Visa has an existing global system for payments and users should have a viable option to pay via NFC with a local merchant that accepts Visa. The credit card company supports multiple payment types and also has existing relationships with banks and mobile phone carriers, so the move has been touted as NFC payments starting to ‘go global’.

MasterPass – the evolution of MasterCard PayPass

The news from Visa and Samsung came alongside MasterCard’s announcement that it has updated its PayPass system, an enhanced ‘MasterPass’, to compete with Visa’s PayWave. MasterPass will be released in Australia (along with Canada) before anywhere else in the world. The new MasterPass will be on Australian shores by the end of this month, and will not be limited to MasterCard credit card holders.

Shoppers can expect to see a ‘MasterPass’ icon in stores such as JB Hi Fi, Roses Only, Merchant Warrior, Paycorp and Harvey Norman. A trial was also recently conducted in Coles supermarkets. NAB, Commonwealth Bank, Westpac and ME Bank are also in the list of partners lined up.

What’s in it for the customer?

Using any payment card on any device is set to become easier for Australians with MasterPass, according to Eddie Grobler, President of MasterCard Australasia. “With a simple click, tap or touch – online, in-store or anywhere – using any payment card or enabled device, MasterPass gives Australians access to a range of cards in their digital wallet with one button,” he said in a statement.

Easier checkout services, both online and in-store, and merchants and banks offering MasterPass enabled digital wallets are the two key benefits consumers can expect once MasterPass hits Australia. Users will also have access to MasterPass value-add services, including real time account balances and alerts, Priceless program loyalty offers and experiences.

The MasterPass system will store users’ details independently of any of the merchants, and is supposed to be a secure way to shop online, according to MasterCard’s head of market development and innovation, Matt Barr.

These two developments will mean easier payments for customers, and a whole new way of interacting with online and bricks and mortar retailers for those with smartphones. We also obtained extensive comments from personal finance experts on the evolution of mobile payments in our Experts Corner piece.