Working with a diverse group of partners, MasterCard has launched a new program designed to enable mobile payments via practically any type of gadget -- eventually. Among the "Commerce for Every Device" prototypes being rolled out during the Money 20/20 conference in Las Vegas this week are a payment-enabling GM
key fob, a ring from Ringy and a wristband from Nymi [pictured].
Along with other partners, including celebrity designer (and personal stylist to Rihanna) Adam Selman and Bluetooth locator TrackR, MasterCard said it plans to bring mobile payments to "a wide array of consumer products across the automotive, fashion, technology wearables and yet-to-be-imagined categories."
The program, supported with technology from NXP and Qualcomm, "puts in place a standard for expanding secure contactless and embedded payment options globally," MasterCard said. The first consumer devices designed for the program are expected to become available in 2016 in the U.S., with other markets to follow.
Mobile Shoppers Value Convenience, Rewards
Convenience in mobile payments is especially important to people when they travel, according to a MasterCard-sponsored study from PRIME Research released last month. The "Retail Social Listening Study" also found that consumer rewards and benefits were a key topic of discussion among people sharing information online about shopping and retail.
MasterCard's "Commerce for Every Device" program builds on two other programs: the Digital Enablement Service, announced in 2013, and Digital Enablement Express, unveiled last month. Both are aimed at making contactless, in-app and digital payments easier and more convenient for customers.
One of the first card issuers to take part in MasterCard's latest program is Capital One, which recently launched a wallet app for both Android and iOS users. The app enables real-time tracking of purchases, grouping of expenses by category and camera-based receipt capture.
'Device as ID'
MasterCard said its ambitions to enable payment by any device are part of the fast-evolving Internet of Things, which is expected to see more than 50 billion connected devices by 2020. Even clothing and clothing accessories could eventually be part of that system. For example, Selman has worked with MasterCard to design a prototype of a "payment-enabled" dress.
Such smart devices could help to create what MasterCard called a "seamless, second line of defense, offering new options to signatures, passwords and other forms of identification." The "device-as-ID" concept "offers clear advantages to the general consumer who is concerned about the safety of their personal information, but who doesn't want to be burdened by complicated or time-consuming steps," according to the company.
According to a recent report from the marketing agency PSFK Labs, businesses that want to deliver "the new shopper experience" will have to, among other things, create confidence among their customers and eliminate obstacles to enable easier, streamlined purchasing.
Brendan Miller, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc., told us he hasn't yet been able to take an in-depth look at what MasterCard is doing, but added that the mobile payment market is still in its very early days.
"We're still in the first inning of a long baseball game here," he said, noting that mobile payments really only launched with the debut of Apple Pay last year. "With wearables, we're still in the pre-season."
The idea of enabling card-free and even smartphone-free payments on the go is "fairly compelling," said Miller, who is currently attending the Money 20/20 conference. "I think there's opportunity here. But we're probably at least five years out before we see any traction."