Visa yesterday began trialling a contactless payment system for mobile handsets in Australia, but MasterCard says it’s three years behind the game.
MasterCard Worldwide’s Vice President of Strategy and Corporate Affairs, David Masters said that the 50-employee trial of the technology looks like a “proof-of-concept” of the kind MasterCard launched back in 2007.
Visa is working with ANZ for the four week trial that links a contactless payment device, similar to MasterCard’s PayPass, into an iPhone case that would theoretically be sold to consumers for a sub-$50 price. The iPhone case, running on DeviceFidelity’s technology, was first announced in mid-2010.
MasterCard has used contactless payment technologies with the Commonwealth Bank and Westpac and has already been working on bringing smartphones into the process.
“Contactless works, consumers want it. It’s about commercialising the mobile side of that,” said Masters.
Masters added that consumers would not be willing to pay for a chip-embedded case, but instead want full integration with their devices (of which both credit card companies offer overseas). He previously hinted to SmartHouse that partnered companies are approaching making announcements on NFC technology releases in Australia, though with nothing official set yet.
Both Visa and MasterCard currently offer mobile payment ‘touch and go’ systems using Near Field Communications (NFC) technology overseas. NFC is a technology similar in some ways to Bluetooth that allows an embedded chip in a device to communicate with other NFC chips that are close to it, thus creating a tap-and-go procedure.
Countries like Japan have been using NFC extensively for years, though the technology is only slowly picking up in Europe, slower still in Australia.
Many smartphones, ranging from Google to Samsung varieties, are now shipping with NFC technology built in.
Mobile commerce provider, Sybase, noted that while companies like MasterCard and Visa have the retail-side infrastructure set up, NFC requires a more co-ordinated market on all sides which Australia does not currently have.
Vice President of Sybase’s mCommerce division, Matt Talbot said that currently “the big issue is replacing all the current handsets in the market.”