New mobile payments partnership enters the fray


To encourage consumers to use their phones for everything from making purchases to sending money to friends and participating in loyalty programs, MasterCard will be partnering with communications giant Everything Everywhere (which runs T-Mobile and Orange services).

The first step
One of the first products due to be launched under MasterCard and Everything Everywhere's five-year partnership will be a prepaid solution. Everything Everywhere will allow its 27 million customers to pre-pay money into an account -- and use the funds to make contactless payments using near field communication (NFC) technology. NFC is a wireless technology that allows a phone to communicate with a special payment terminal. Instead of swiping a card, customers can wave their phones near the terminals to have money deducted from their accounts. mobile-payments

Other areas to be explored
In addition to mobile payments, the two companies are keen to expand into person-to-person money transfers, which allow anyone with a mobile phone to send money to friends and family. They also hope to get businesses in on the mobile payments act by creating digital loyalty programs. Such programs (a high-tech version of the traditional punch cards for repeat shoppers) allow merchants to collect data on their customers and send customized offers and discounts directly to their mobile devices. MasterCard has also said it plans to help small merchants who are wary of the costs associated with NFC to implement the technology.

"MasterCard's vision is of a world beyond cash, where consumers and small businesses alike can benefit from simple payments using smart technology," said Marion King, president of MasterCard UK and Ireland in a statement.

The wallet wars
The partnership is just the latest contender in an increasingly crowded ring of competing digital payment options.

Barclay's launched an app called Pingit in February that allows users to send money to friends and family. The O2 Wallet, similarly, allows users to send money to anyone with a UK phone number. It also has comparison shopping features and lets user store money that can be used for online shopping. Visa plans to launch its wallet, which will let users link payment cards to their phones and make NFC payments.

For its part, MasterCard also recently partnered with the start-up online payments application Boku. The partnership between MasterCard and Everything Everywhere will help MasterCard extend new payment technologies to a large swath of mobile phone users in the UK.  

"... We are closer to a world where our customers will be able to use their phone to pay for travel to work, pay for small purchases and take advantage of loyalty rewards from their favourite retail outlets," said Gerry McQuade, chief marketing officer at Everything Everywhere,said in a statement.

See related: What's keeping mobile payments from going mainstream?, Wireless festival goes contactless

Published: 31 August 2012