Matching Visa’s V.me wallet service, MasterCard has taken a major step forward in its digital wallet plans with the release of its own approach, one that includes access to PayPass facilities for contactless payments, a digital wallet in the cloud, and application programmer interfaces to encourage use of the MasterCard platform within merchant and financial institution applications.
The wallet is open, meaning that customers will be able to use other cards – even Visa – with the platform. Partners in the project include big names like American Airlines, Barnes and Noble, MLB, Citibank and The National Bank of Canada.
“We realize that when it comes to payments, no single wallet will rule them all. PayPass Wallet Services simplifies the shopping experience while providing flexibility and choice to merchants, banks and consumers,” says Ed McLaughlin, chief emerging payments officer at MasterCard.
The open wallet is both a technical and marketing step. Besides an increase in general utility, the ability to support non-MasterCard payment methods gives both MasterCard and the issuer an ability to observe payment method behavior at the transaction level, producing an unprecedented stream of competitive intelligence (Visa has taken a similar step).
Digital wallets continue to multiply. By one count, there are over 100 of them in the U.S. market alone. While that number will likely double, even triple, in the coming months, there will be a winnowing process. MasterCard’s wallet connects to local and remote methods of transaction origination. Given that flexibility, the breadth of the network, and its branding power, it will be among the survivors of what will be a bruising competition.
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