MasterCard: NFC Not Alone As Future Of Contactless

We’re familiar with MasterCard’s vision of a “world beyond cash.” If such a world is to exist, two of the biggest catalysts will be mobile and online payments.

As such, spoke with James Anderson, MasterCard’s group head and senior vice president, mobile product development, to discuss the future of contactless payments, the advantages of NFC, and how MasterCard’s PayPass initiative drives both industries together.

“We chose to call it PayPass because we really believe in convergence between what we’re doing online and what we’re doing with contactless,” Anderson said. “We’re using PayPass as the brand for our online experience and to converge a user experience that brings the benefits of all these new ways to pay to the consumer in a very coherent and very compelling way.“

As most will be familiar with now, PayPass works with through a tap-and-go process that allows customers to tap their PayPass cards or NFC-equipped mobile devices on PayPass terminals to allow for faster, secure transactions.

Anderson, who also serves as a vice chairman for NFC Forum, says PayPass perfectly demonstrates how NFC can advance the future of payments. While NFC’s speed is a factor that will obviously appeal to many consumers, its security features should also make it an attractive alternative to traditional transactions methods.

“The reason we chose NFC was we were looking for a technology that would enable us to use the mobile device as a payments device, and most of our technologies, if you think of Mag Stripe and you think of chip technologies, they’re all fundamentally contact technologies where the card is physically connected to the terminal in order to effect a transaction,” Anderson said.

“The way our most secure payment technology works, EMV, it’s a two-way dialogue between the terminal and the device, and so we need a radio technology that can emulates what we do in a contact environment between the chip card and the terminal.”

While Anderson cites NFC’s speed, security and increasing adaption as reasons why its future is bright, he also notes that MasterCard – and PayPass, specifically – need to be able to accommodate a wide range of payments methods in order to appeal to consumers. As such, he says MasterCard is focused on all technologies that make the limitations of cash more obvious.

“For us it’s not just only ‘NFC,’ it’s ‘NFC and.’ And the ‘and’ is going to be things that deliver a great user experience to the consumer, things that can be scaled across many different customers and in many different environments,” Anderson said.

“We like NFC technology, we think it’s fit for purpose for point of sale payments, which is a big part of our business. But there are a lot of other applications and ways of paying, and we’re supporting many of them for our PayPass initiative.”

To hear more Anderson on PayPass, NFC and MasterCard’s vision of “a world beyond cash,” listen to the full podcast below.


James Anderson

Group Head and Senior Vice President of Mobile Product Development, MasterCard

James Anderson is group head and senior vice president of Mobile Product Development. In this role, he is responsible for developing mobile payment products, including proximity payments and mobile authentication services. In addition to leading MasterCard’s mobile product development, Anderson supports commercialization efforts, sales and business development activities around the world.

Anderson spent his career at the intersection of mobile, payment, and internet technologies in the functional areas of Product Development and Business Development. He serves as Vice Chairman of the NFC Forum.

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