On the eve of the CTIA Wireless mobile trade show, MasterCard—one of the leading credit-card companies behind fledgling mobile-wallet-payment systems (including Google Wallet)—announced its own service, PayPass Wallet.
PayPass Wallet will work with smart phones that support wireless NFC (near-field communication) technology as well as other tablets and computing devices, to pay for products and services at store registers or over the Internet. On a smart phone, tablet, or other NFC-equipped device, you'll be able to pay for items at the checkout counter by "bumping" your device against a terminal. But you can also log into PayPass Wallet to order products from any computer.
The PayPass Wallet account can hold a number of shipping addresses and preferences, which you can easily select at the time of purchase. This could save you a lot of time when ordering online from a merchant you've never used before, and potentially give you more flexibility with online merchants you use frequently. For example, Amazon.com lets you store multiple payment methods and shipping addresses for your account but often asks you to type in additional verification information when you change payment methods or add a new address.
When MasterCard begins rolling out PayPass Wallet later this year, it will support up 25 different credit cards, including those from rivals Visa and American Express, to let consumers take advantage of rewards programs that are linked to specific cards. American Airlines and Barnes & Noble will be among the first merchants with a PayPass Online checkout button on their websites.
At the event, MasterCard demonstrated several mobile scenarios, including using a phone to pay for a trip on the subway by bumping it against a PayPass Wallet-equipped turnstile. But when I asked the demonstrator how MasterCard plans to prevent double- and triple-charging customers who accidentally swipe their phones over the turnstile reader more than once or even allow it to linger over the sensor for more than a second, she said only, "I'm sure the merchant will have safeguards to prevent this."
MasterCard says there will be no additional fees for using PayPass Wallet service except for those already charged by banks that issue the credit cards. The company is also making its application program interface (API) available to third-party companies to use under their own brand.
At the Consumer Electronics Show last January, computer-chip-maker Intel announced a partnership with MasterCard's PayPass system, saying that its SandyBridge chips, used in small notebook computers, would have additional technology to verify the identity of the person making that purchase.