MasterCard announced a service Thursday that could make it easier to pay for products with their cell phones.
The company's over-the-air provisioning service lets card issuers transfer a PayPass application onto handsets that are equipped with Near Field Communication technology. A customer could then personalize their payment account over a mobile network, and then purchase products by swiping the phone near specially-equipped terminals.
The NFC technology enables contactless payments, and it's already in many mobile phones around the world. It's still a growing field, and RFID vendor Sirit predicts that up to one-third of all cell phones will be NFC-equipped in five years.
"At MasterCard, we are dedicated to the development of a sustainable mobile payments eco-system in which all of our customers and every major mobile player can participate," said Art Kranzley, MasterCard's chief emerging technology officer, in a statement. "By managing the device personalization process for our customers from beginning to end, we are offering a service that is consistent with both customer demand for ease of implementation and consumer demand for ease of use."
This is MasterCard's latest move into the mobile space, and the company continues to offer more services in the fields of mobile banking, account management from the handset, person-to-person payments, mobile commerce, and other services.
Meanwhile, MasterCard's rival Visa is also aggressively targeting the mobile market, and it has been piloting mobile banking and payment services. It has also teamed with Nokia to bring out a handset with NFC technology, and it recently said it would develop applications for Google's Android platform.
But these companies are still facing hurdles in the U.S. market, as a recent study suggests that mobile payment is still in its infancy.