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MasterCard invests in mobile banking developer

02 декабря 2011

MasterCard Inc. has invested in mobile software developer mFoundry Inc. as it works to expand consumers' ability to use their smartphones as payment devices.

The Purchase, N.Y.-based credit card processor said Thursday as part of the deal, the companies will work together to integrate MasterCard's PayPass technology, which allows users to tap credit cards and other devices against payment terminals instead of swiping them, in mFoundry's mobile banking applications.

The investment is MasterCard's latest effort to strengthen ties with technology firms as it and other credit-card companies face competition from new entrants that are pushing mobile-payments services. MasterCard, Visa Inc., American Express Co. and Discover Financial Services hope by partnering with new players, their traditional plastic cards won't get displaced by services such as Google Inc.'s mobile wallet and Isis, a program being developed by several wireless carriers.

"We won't have one winner in this mobile payment game," said Emmett Higdon, a financial technology analyst with Prizm Strategy and former Citigroup Inc. executive."It makes sense for MasterCard or any of the (card) networks ... to be investing in multiple solutions."

Drew Sievers, chief executive of mFoundry, said his company is planning to incorporate MasterCard's PayPass technology in future releases of its mobile-banking software starting next year. Larkspur, Calif.-based mFoundry has about 600 bank and credit union clients, including Bank of America Corp., PNC Financial Services Group Inc. and Zions Bancorp. His company also developed Starbucks Corp.'s mobile-payments applications.

Banks of all sizes have rolled out applications that let customers check balances, pay bills and transfer funds between accounts using their smartphones, said James Anderson, senior vice president of mobile product development at MasterCard. Adding mobile "contactless" payment capabilities to those applications is a logical next step for banks, Anderson said.

"What we're looking for from this relationship ... is really to make it very easy for banks to embrace mobile PayPass and get active in the mobile contactless space," Anderson said.

MasterCard and mFoundry plan to develop their services using a technology called near-field communication, or NFC, which requires special chips to be built into smartphones and merchant-payment terminals. NFC is the same technology powering the Google Wallet, the search-engine giant's service that went live in September.

The number of mobile payment users will surpass 141.1 million worldwide this year, up 38.2% from 2010, research firm Gartner Inc. estimates. The volume of mobile-payment transactions is expected to grow 76% this year to $86.1 billion.

MasterCard was the lead investor in a round that also included Intel Capital, Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc. and financial technology vendor Fidelity National Information Services Inc., Sievers said. MasterCard and mFoundry didn't disclose terms of the deal.

MasterCard has also announced deals with Western Union Co., Intel Corp. and mobile operator Telefonica SA in recent weeks aimed at expanding its reach into electronic commerce. It is also among the first partners on Google Wallet, which allows consumers to load certain MasterCard-branded credit cards issued by Citi into certain Android smartphones, which can then can be used to pay for goods by tapping the devices in front of a merchant terminal.

Competing card companies have made similar investments. Visa this summer paid $110 million for Fundamo, a South Africa-based mobile payments company that focuses on under-developed regions. It has also made investments in Monitise PLC, a United Kingdom-based mobile software company, and Square, which sells a portable credit-card reader that attaches to smartphones.

American Express, which already has deals with social-networking company Foursquare and mobile payments company Payfone, recently said it would invest $100 million in early-stage startups to grow its online and mobile commerce presence.

Discover is working with Isis, a mobile payments service developed by a joint venture of AT&T Inc., T-Mobile USA and Verizon Wireless. MasterCard, Visa and American Express have said they also will work with Isis, which plans to begin tests next year.

"We still have so much fragmentation ... in the mobile payments space that it makes perfect sense for them to have their finger in a lot of pies," Higdon said.

MasterCard's shares were up $3.26 at $371.81 in recent trading.

Источник: Total Telecom

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