Mobile World Congress: Visa and MasterCard Rollout Enhanced M-Commerce Platforms

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Visa and MasterCard are both using Mobile World Congress, the world's biggest stage for mobile, to reveal deeper efforts for mobile payments across the globe. MasterCard launched MasterPass, an enhanced version of its mobile wallet PayPass, while Visa announced a global partnership with Samsung and a group of technology providers that will broaden its mobile payment program and enable third parties to connect to the system.

Visa and MasterCard are both using Mobile World Congress, the world's biggest stage for mobile, to reveal deeper efforts for mobile payments across the globe. MasterCard launched MasterPass, an enhanced version of its mobile wallet PayPass, while Visa announced a global partnership with Samsung and a group of technology providers that will broaden its mobile payment program and enable third parties to connect to the system.

"We all know that the center of commerce will be these devices," says Jim McCarthy, head of global product at Visa. "It's not just about using these devices to pay, but also the fact that today in the Visa ecosystem we have 30 million merchants but the fact is there are over 7 billion of these devices that can be turned into terminals and turn consumers into merchants for payment."

The deal with Samsung calls for all future next-generation devices from the Korean device maker to come with the NFC-equipped Visa payWave app pre installed. Visa also announced that ROAM will be the company's first mobile point-of-sale partner for the Visa Ready Program, which enables third-party technology companies, platform providers, OEMs, card manufacturers and mobile network operators to incorporate Visa's mobile commerce platform through SDKs and APIs.

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"Visa can't do this alone," says Bill Gajda, global head of mobile at Visa, adding that adoption rates and usage patterns will vary by market. "Where banks can get access to those devices and that alternative secure element, you're going to be able to create your own mobile wallet built on your mobile banking application that includes NFC payments. And we're going to be able to use that Visa payWave app that's already on the device that's out of the factory, as well as our provisioning service to get all of your accounts onto those phones," adds Gajda.

"Even for mobile network operators, whether it's to address capacity issues of the SIM or just because they don't have to replace the SIMs now in order to facilitate NFC, I think we're going to see a number of parties really look favorable on this alternative secure element just because it broadens the options for banks, mobile network operators and device manufacturers to provision credentials on phones," he continues.

McCarthy also discussed the potential marketing opportunity for m-commerce, but indicated that any targeting ads based on customers' financial purchase patterns are still a long ways off.

"We do see a lot of data today," he says. "Clearly in the case of mobile, there's the opportunity to expand beyond that as it relates to having one-to-one relationships, but at it's core Visa is still only managing those 16 digits, we don't have personally identifiable information. But what we can do is work with our financial institution clients, issuers and acquirers to actually provide better service, deepen the relationship, provide better offers all based on that data and use in a predictive fashion. Now, the trick there obviously is its all about consumer permissions. There's no hiding the ball, it's all about giving consumers control, making sure consumers know how that data is being used."

Visa currently has more than 200,000 active merchant locations equipped with NFC in the United States and more than 600,000 locations in Europe.

For it's part, MasterCard plans to launch MasterPass in Australia and Canada next month, followed by the United States, United Kingdom and then eventually Belgium, Brazil, China, France, Italy, Netherlands, Singapore, Spain and Sweden by the end of the year.

MasterPass will support checkout services for merchants with the use of NFC, QR codes, tags and mobile devices at points of sale. MasterCard now has 27 financial institutions, 21 technology partners and 16 merchants on board for the effort as it looks to expand to more than 5,900 merchants. The company also announced new partnerships with mFoundry's mobile banking solutions and Orange in Spain.

Finally, MasterCard released a new study today, in partnership with Prime Research, that found early adopters have a 58 percent favorable rating of mobile payment technology while those yet to adopt have a more positive outlook overall at 76 percent.

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