By Jill Jaracz


5 Min. To Read

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Last year MasterCard launched a big push for the use of mobile wallets, a tool in which you can store your credit card information in a secure area of your cell phone or in an app that's on your cell phone to use for paying for goods at stores. At the recent Mobile World Congress trade show, it introduced another service called MasterPass, which is designed to help advance the usability and future of mobile payments.

MasterPass builds on the product MasterCard introduced last year called PayPass Wallet Services, which was a product that banks, merchants and MasterCard partners could use to make online and mobile payments easier through one-click or one-tap purchasing.

"Every device is becoming a shopping device," said Ed McLaughlin, chief emerging payments officer, MasterCard, in a statement. "MasterPass brings together all of the ways we pay for things, from traditional plastic cards to digital wallets, and gives consumers the ability to make a payment from wherever they are and with one simple experience."

With MasterPass, consumers around the world will be able to make mobile payments. MasterCard will first launch the service in March in Australia and Canada. Consumers in the United States should expect to be able to sign up for it later in spring, with the United Kingdom following in summer. Throughout the rest of the year, the service will be added in Belgium, Brazil, China, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Singapore, Spain and Sweden.

MasterPass contains three types of service to help merchants accept payments and consumers make payments. The first is MasterPass checkout services, which gives merchants a consistent way to accept electronic payments. For consumers this will mean they can be located anywhere, and a store will accept the same electronic payments, whether the transaction is online or in a store. MasterPass will support NFC, or Near Field Communications, technology, which enables a mobile phone to make a payment. It will also support QR codes, tag and mobile devices when you check out. For online shopping, this means consumers won't have to enter detailed shipping and credit card information every time they make a purchase on a MasterPass-enabled website.

The second service is MasterPass-connected wallets, which allows banks, merchants and partners to offer consumers mobile wallets. With a mobile wallet, consumers can safely store their credit card information in the cloud and then access it with a mobile device in order to pay for goods and services. The MasterPass-connected wallet works with all types of credit, debit and prepaid cards, regardless of whether they have a MasterCard brand or not.

Finally, MasterPass comes with value-added services that will improve shopping experiences for consumers, including offering account balances and real-time alerts. It can also incorporate loyalty programs and provide special offers, such as MasterCard's Priceless series of offers and experiences.

"The most successful next generation payment product will be considerate of a wider range of stakeholders in its design and allow them to impact the user experience according to their business need and still-evolving industry dynamics. MasterPass reflects this modern sensibility of agnostic-based design but leverages the muscle that only a global network can deliver," said Patricia Hewitt, director, Debit Advisory Service, Mercator Advisory Group.

Not only can this mobile wallet product change the way consumers view payments, perhaps eliminating plastic cards from their wallets, it can also improve the shopping experience, and retailers are planning to explore ways to use this new tool. "As a digital retail leader, we are keen to be at the forefront of new ways customers can shop with us. With customers rapidly changing their mix of shopping methods, whether Internet, mobile device or in store, MasterPass will in due course enable us to provide our customer with a simple, quicker and secure way to shop," said John Walden, managing director, Argos.

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