GLOBAL TECH WRAP: MasterCard, Visa make big mobile moves

Visa has entered a global alliance with Samsung to push contact-less payments via NFC (near-field communication) - or simply paying for stuff with a tap or wave of your cellphone, in plainer English.

Specifically, Visa's Paywave applet will be loaded onto Samsung smartphones. After years of being just six months  away, NFC is starting to gain traction, and Samsung is not a bad partner to start with for Visa, given the Korean company is now the biggest seller of smartphones, and mobiles full-stop.

Visa tells NBR ONLINE that In order to enable financial institutions to launch large scale mobile (NFC) payment programs, Samsung will offer banks the ability to load payment account information over-the-air to a secure chip embedded in Samsung devices, using Visa’s Mobile Provisioning Service which is linked to Samsung KMS (Key Management System) – a service that creates secure data storage domains for issuers.

The Paywave applet will feature on "select next-generation" Samsung mobiles - one of which could be the next upgrade to Samsung's flagship Android phone, the Galaxy SIII. As NBR ONLINE reported earlier, a Galaxy  S IV launch is tipped for March 14.

That would be a good start. But long term, Visa has to be angling for its app to be pre-installed on every Samsung smartphone. And if it doesn't achieve that, the partnership could be another cul-de-sac as phone companies, retailers and others grope their way toward mainstream mobile payments.

Meanwhile, MasterCard has used the World Mobile Congress in Barcelona to launch MasterPass, a new platform or "eco-system" for mobile payments. The deal is that MasterPass won't just support PayPass (MasterCard's version of Visa's Paywave for tap-and-pay) but also alternative payment and voucher systems like those based on QR Codes.

While we're not seeing a lot of mobile payment action in NZ yet, the stars are staring to align. Telecom and Vodafone are dipping their toes in the water with limited trials, and 2degrees has launched with Snapper. It all seems a Balkanised on the face of things, but behind the scenes Telecom, Vodafone and 2degrees and Paymark have cooperated on trusted services manager technology to tie secure payments together.