MasterCard aims at mobile payment market with launch of "digital wallet"
By Laura Noonan
LONDON (Reuters) - Mastercard MA.N unveiled its bid to dominate the mobile payments market on Monday with a 'virtual wallet' allowing customers to keep personal payment details in their phone and avoid checkouts by scanning bar codes in-store to pay.
Financial services companies like the U.S. credit-card company as well as technology names Google (GOOG.O: Quote) and eBay Inc's (EBAY.O: Quote) PayPal are looking for ways to capitalize on the prevalence of consumers' sophisticated phones by providing programs that house credit and debit cards, coupons and store loyalty program details virtually.
Mastercard said its MasterPass service, effectively an app, would let customers pay for their goods without approaching a cashier by instead scanning a bar code and creating a digital receipt on their phone or tablet that can be shown as they exit the store.
It can also be used for easier online payments, allowing customers a "one click" way to pay without the hassle of having to input their credit or debit card details each time.
It comes almost a year after MasterCard's first foray into the mobile payments market with PayPass, which let customers pay at store tills by simply tapping their cards against a sensor.
The U.S.-based credit card company said the MasterPass system would be rolled out in Australia and Canada by the end of March. The United States will follow later in the spring, ahead of the UK in the summer.
Participating retailers include Argos ARGOS11.MX , BootsABAQUO.UL and American AirlinesAMRARJ.UL, while banks which have signed up include Spain's BBVA (BBVA.MC: Quote) and Santander (SAN.MC: Quote), Citigroup (C.N: Quote) in the United States, Italy's Intesa Sanpaolo (ISP.MI: Quote) and Sweden's Swedbank (SWEDa.ST: Quote).
Ed McLaughlin, chief emerging payments officer at MasterCard, said banks would pay to use the technology, but would not give any detail on what the charges would be. Banks will also be able to use a "private label" version that can wrap their own cards into the MasterPass virtual wallets. Continued...