Visa, MasterCard get their feet wet in the mobile world

Krystal Peak · May 14, 2012 · Short URL:

Both credit card giants are offering NFC options, online payments but aren't yet on Square's turf

Two of the biggest players in the credit card players are now in the mobile payment game. Visa and MasterCard each launched their online digital wallet services: (Visa’s) and PayPass Wallet Services (MasterCard) and now we are off to the races to see if either of them can break the lead away from Square.

These new digital payment services were clearly created in response to the growing market Square has built and that companies like PayPal, LevelUp, PayDragon and Bump have put their own spins on.

MasterCard PayPass Wallet Services

MasterCard unveiled its new PayPass Wallet service last week as an extension of its PayPass brand, which already offers tap-and-go, NFC-enabled payments that work via NFC phones, cards, key fobs, or mobile tags at more than 441,000 locations worldwide. 

MasterCard’s PayPass Wallet is an open solution, and allows consumers to add any of their Visa, American Express and Discover cards to the app and pay without pulling out any plastic. 

The app will also keep your shipping info on file if you want to use the service for online purchases. 

Partners that have already signed on to offer this payment option are American Airlines and Barnes & Noble. Both merchants will add the PayPass Online checkout button on their websites.

Currently, however, users of this system for physical purchases need to have a phone with NFC -- so very few of us. MasterCard is still working on a non-NFC system but has not given an expected date of release for that option. So most Android users and all iPhone users must wait.

Non-NFC phone users can still make online purchases as well as set up spending controls, real-time alerts, and find coupons and targeted offers.

Visa also released a mobile option to help those who are shopping online, whether via web, mobile or tablet. The service stores any of you Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover cards in it for fast Internet transaction. 

Visa thinks that this is a more efficient and secure way to shop online since the merchant still receives your payment through Visa’s network, but your 16-digit card number is not displayed on the site, which adds another layer of security.

Visa also plans to introduce a mobile payments element using NFC, QR codes and app technology to allow people to buy products through the Visa network much like they use Square and the like but is not releasing a timeline when that will be live.

The company announced its beta launch for, with merchants and Now, on both websites, you will see the seal and can make impulse buying even faster. 

POS in the future

Both and MasterCard’s PayPass Wallet highlighted that they will roll out point-of-sale and as a mobile application in the future.

Square already has a POS system that leverages the iPad called Register. And PayPal is working on its own so it seems like Visa and MasterCard are following suit but certainly not keeping pace as you would think their money could assist in doing.

American Express in also in the game, or at least announcing its hat in the ring. The company previously announced Serve platform, which allows peer-to-peer payments much like Bump and Square offer.

Last month we reported that Square appears to be hitting the pavement for new funding and an awe-inspiring valuation of $4 billion, according to multiple sources.

If the company hits its goal, and with all the buzz around the mobile payment service I bet it will, it will have quadrupled its worth in a matter of just 10 months.

The three-year-old company founded by Twitter pioneer, Jack Dorsey is changing the whole system of transactions across the nation by providing cardless, and now register less, systems of retail. 

Over the last few months, Square has been rolling out new apps, services and deals with millions of individuals, restaurants, and retail locations that want to reduce hardware costs and join the techno-savvy paperless revolution.

Also reported last month, was the information that mobile payments could become as common as swiping a credit card by 2020.

Approximately 65% of experts surveyed in the study agreed that mobile payments would take off by 2020, while 33% of experts agreed with a more negative statement, which said that consumers wouldn’t trust mobile payments to replace cash and credit cards by 2020.

Recent Pew Internet surveys have found that one in 10 Americans have used their cell phone to make a charitable contribution by text message; more than one-third of smartphone owners have used their phones to do online banking services like paying bills or checking a balance; and 46% of apps users have purchased an app using a mobile device. So the comfort is growing with phone transactions, but all of these mobile payment companies that have been making waves over the last few months are hoping that you'll feel fine leaving home with just your phone in the very near future. 

Now may be the time when everyone jumps in the pool, but the next big deal will be how each company differentiates its service and who can continually innovate their products and sign-on the most customers. There is always room for many players in the payment game, but as far as technical innovation and imagination, Square may still prove to have the upper hand.


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SCVNGR / LevelUp


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LevelUp is the pay phone app. It lets you pay with your phone to save time and money at your favorite local businesses. To get started, visit or grab the free app for iPhone & Android. Based in Boston, MA, SCVNGR + LevelUp is funded by Google Ventures, Highland Capital Partners and Balderton Capital.



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PayDragon is a mobile shopping app that lets smartphone users order and pay remotely for goods and services. PayDragon translates the convenient one-click shopping experience to the real world by enabling consumers to easily browse, scan, shop and pay for items on the go. Launched by the team behind Paperlinks, a leader in QR code marketing and mobile commerce, the PayDragon app is available for free on iPhone and Android

PayDragon is headed by CEO and Founder Hamilton Chan.