The global battle for mobile payment systems is on, with two major credit card companies introducing their latest approaches at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
Visa announced a deal with Samsung where the phone manufacturer will pre-install NFC-equipped Visa payWave capabilities in all future next-generation devices. For its part, Samsung will offer banks the ability to load payment account information over the air to a secure chip embedded in the mobile devices.
MasterCard, meanwhile, introduced a new version of its own mobile payment system that will allow consumers to use near field communication, QR codes, tags or mobile devices to buy things at stores without paperwork.
Visa has more than 200,000 merchant locations with NFC capabilities in the U.S. and more than 600,000 in Europe. MasterCard also has several hundred thousand PayPass terminals around the globe. (PayPass was the old name of the new MasterPass).
Meanwhile, the phone company consortium Isis continues its own trial in Austin and Salt Lake, presumably fine-tuning for a later nationwide rollout.
The challenge for any of the payment systems is to work at scale. With more than six billion mobile subscriptions globally and smartphone and tablet penetration on the rise, the market for payments is huge and extends across all borders.
MasterCard plans to launch its platform in Australia and Canada, followed by the U.K., U.S., and then other countries in Europe and Asia.
Much of the efforts in mobile payments tend to be in the area of building the payments eco-system. The banks are being courted and empowered by both Visa and MasterCard and technology companies such as Samsung are being brought into the fold along the way.
There’s still a long way to go and various smaller payment systems approaches – some very well funded – continue to grow.
The general market consensus is that consumers will use their phones to pay; the big question remaining is how.