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Visa and MasterCard announce smartphone payments alliances at Mobile World Congress

By , CardRatings contributor
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Visa and MasterCard both announced new initiatives in February designed to speed user adoption of smartphones with contactless credit card capabilities. Visa officials released details of technology alliances with two major vendors that can help bridge the gap between consumers and retailers, while MasterCard unveiled the results of its analysis of consumer demand for Near Field Communication (NFC) payment technology among social media users.

At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, Visa officials confirmed that the payment technology company awarded Samsung a license to preload the Visa payWave app onto future generations of Samsung smartphones and tablets. With automatic connections to Visa's mobile provisioning service, Samsung's technology can allow credit card issuers to pre-certify new devices for wireless payments.

Because consumer access to NFC payment devices means little without merchant adoption, Visa also announced a new agreement with point-of-sale vendor ROAM. Under terms of the agreement, the Ingenico company will manufacture "Visa Ready" merchant terminals that company with the payments industry's technology roadmap. ROAM will market the terminals under its own brand, while offering "white label" services to banks and other vendors wishing to accelerate contactless credit card and NFC payment acceptance.

Meanwhile, MasterCard used Mobile World Conference to take the wraps off MasterPass, the rebranded and upgraded version of the company's mobile wallet initiative. In a statement to reporters, company officials revealed that consumers in the United States would start receiving MasterPass invitations from participating credit card issuers during Summer 2013. MasterPass offers merchants the option of accepting debit and credit card payments via NFC terminals, scannable barcodes, and electronic wallets. MasterPass also includes customer loyalty tracking and other value-added services to encourage retailers' participation.

MasterCard's global survey of social media posts related to wireless payment technology found that many Americans show interest in the new systems, but don't yet know enough to draw conclusions. An analysis of over 85,000 social media posts and 10,000 comments showed that many bloggers and social media users haven't yet formed strong opinions about NFC transactions. Visa and MasterCard have both put contactless EMV credit cards and wireless NFC transactions at the core of technology roadmaps that encourage retailers to decommission magnetic stripe readers over the next few years.

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