Credit card company MasterCard is working with diverse innovators to launch a program that would make mobile payments possible from any device. The technology – announced this week in Las Vegas – works with gadgets as unsuspecting as a GM car key fob.
MasterCard plans to bring mobile payments to “a wide array of consumer products across the automotive, fashion, technology wearables and yet-to-be-imagined categories,” stated a story in Top Tech News.
The program is supported by technology from NXP Qualcomm, and “puts in place a standard for expanding secure contactless and embedded payment options globally,” said MasterCard.
Mobile payment is becoming an increasingly important service, especially for people who travel. Whether it be work or pleasure, convenience and ease is important. MasterCard hopes to enable 50 billion devices to its “payment by any device” program by 2020.
The program is expected to be available for consumer devices in the United States in 2016, with other global markets to follow.
In its first month of use in South Korea, Samsung Pay has done incredibly well. The service which allows its users to pay for items with their smartphones at participating vendors has proven to be both popular and profitable, according to the smartphone maker.
Samsung reported more than $30 million in transactions were made between August 20 and September 20. More than 1.5 million individual transactions have occurred and approximately 36 percent of Samsung users in South Korea are actively using the service, with ten percent using it every day.
“Although the details on Samsung Pay usage are constantly being updated, the response we’ve received so far has been beyond our expectations,” Samsung Pay head Injob Rhee said in a statement. “We knew Samsung Pay would be a game-changer in the mobile payments industry and now with user data, we are seeing the greater impact it is having on consumer behavior and on the lifestyle of our customers.”
Samsung Pay will launch in the United States September 28, where it will be in direct competition with Apple Pay and Google’s Android Pay. Despite the head start of the other U.S. systems, Samsung Pay has one distinct advantage: Samsung Pay does not require merchants to have NFC (near-field communications) technology. This means vendors will be more likely to support the service, since they would not be required to upgrade their equipment.
Samsung Pay is expected to make its way to China, Spain and the United Kingdom in the near future.
The new Google Wallet for iOS was recently launched with a new focus on peer-to-peer payments. The completely rebuilt app went live on Android in September, and is now also available on iOS.
Android Pay was launched by Google earlier this month in an attempt to turn Google Wallet into a peer-to-peer payments service. Google Wallet allows users to send money to anyone in the U.S. using only an email address. An added bonus is the person accepting the transfer does not need to be a user of the Wallet service to receive payments.
A Google Wallet Card can be ordered from within the app. The card allows users to physically spend the money in their account in stores, or withdraw it from an ATM. Users also have the option to “cash out” the amount in their Google Wallet to a bank account or debit card linked to their account.
The new version of Google Wallet is available for download here.
The credit card giants in the United States are gearing up to slug it out at the checkout counter once again.
After years of prohibiting merchants who accept its cards from steering customers to other brands, American Express is lifting these restrictions.
The change comes after a federal judge found in February that AmEx’s rules on the matter were anti-competitive. This week, a separate court denied the company’s request to keep the rules in place pending its appeal.
This means that starting next month, merchants will be able to offer discounts or rebates to customers paying with a card from Visa or MasterCard and display signs showing which card brand they prefer. Visa and MasterCard could also negotiate lower fees with certain merchants in exchange for the merchant agreeing to steer customers towards their cards.
Merchants, who pay a percentage of each card transaction to card-issuing banks, have long complained that they pay more when customers swipe an AmEx card than when they use other types of plastic.
To compete with Apple Pay, rumors suggest Google is interested in buying mobile payments company Softcard. The price may be under $100 million, which is either a huge bargain or a sign of Softcard’s current difficulties as a company.
Both Google and Softcard have declined to comment on the M&A rumors, but Softcard is currently in a consolidation phase, laying off around 60 employees earlier this month.
“Softcard is taking steps to reduce costs and strengthen its business. This includes simplifying the company’s organizational structure and consolidating all operations into its Dallas and New York offices, which involves layoffs across the company,” a spokesperson said. “We believe these efficiencies will best position Softcard in the marketplace while maintaining focus on serving our market.”
Softcard – formerly known as Isis – was started in 2010 by AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile as a unified front for the big carriers to introduce a “contactless” NFC mobile payment solution. The company says over 200,000 merchants in the U.S. can accept payments with its app, which is currently available on Android and Windows Phone devices. Cards from American Express, Wells Fargo and other banks can be activated within Softcard’s app as well, allowing users to pay on their phones with those merchants.
The service’s success with customers, however, is unclear. A marketing campaign was launched around a new mascot called “Tappy” in November 2014. The mascot was created by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop in “a new campaign aimed at educating consumers on Softcard and mobile payments in a fun, social, and sharable way.”
Google’s interest in the company may be related to Softcard’s more than 120 applications for patents. Negotiations could also involve deals to hold on to Softcard’s existing relationships with carriers and retail channels.
The cost associated with maintaining and upgrading both hardware and software to support a fast-moving smartphone industry is arguably one of the main reasons for the slow adoption and support of mobile payments. The prospect of having to update mobile payment systems whenever a new operating system, payment method or device comes out can be a daunting prospect to vendors. Additionally, competing mobile payments are oftentimes mutually exclusive.
The PAYware Mobile e355 has been developed by Verifone to act as an all-encompassing mPOS, designed to accommodate both existing and upcoming device form factors. It supports the mobile payments systems of all major platforms including Android, iOS (Apple Pay) and Windows. The device supports EMV, NFC and magnetic stripe payments, and even has an option for a barcode scanner. The mPOS also supports connectivity from Bluetooth, WiFi and USB.
Verifone has yet to reveal retail details, but says the PAYware Mobile e355 will be available later this summer.
Some major retailers have blocked Apple Pay in favor of an alternative payment method set for release in 2015. Apple Pay received ample support from retailers during its September launch, but NFC terminals at Rite Aid and CVS enabling Apple Pay have reportedly been disabled.
In a leaked memo to Rite Aid employees explaining the company no longer accepts Apple Pay, a payment system called CurrentC was hinted at being available in the first half of 2015. Developed by Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX), this rival payment system is likely to be adopted by a group of major U.S. retailers including Rite Aid, CVS, Kmart, Sears, Target, Walmart, Best Buy and 7 Eleven.
CurrentC will do away with the need for NFC terminals, by using an app and QR codes which can be scanned to facilitate transactions. Merchant debit cards, rewards programs or your bank account can be accessed for payment. This closed system would eliminate credit card processing fees and give merchants more customer information.
Historically, QR codes have not been very popular with consumers. Apple Pay’s tap-to-pay method makes it easier to use, but only time will tell who will win the battle of mobile payment options.
Home Depot is the latest retailer to be rocked by a credit card scandal, with cybersecurity expert Brian Krebs pointing the finger at the big box store as the source of the latest breach.
It’s not small potatoes – Krebs has suggested victims could have had their information scooped at most of Home Depot’s 2,200 stores, meaning it could have an even larger impact than 2013’s Target breach. It appears criminals may have accessed data from the stores’ point-of-sale terminals for several months.
On Thursday, Home Depot announced it is offering credit monitoring and identity protection services to affected customers. The chain says it has engaged two outside firms to investigate the matter, which is also being looked into by bank and government officials.
A handful of merchants groups are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to take a second look at the debit card swipe fee cap.
The National Association of Convenience Stores, the Food Marketing Institute, the National Restaurant Association, the National Retail Federation, Boscov’s and Miller Oil Co. all filed the petition asking the court to have another look at the Federal Reserve’s decision to cap swipe fees at 21 cents per transaction instead of lowering it.
Originally, the Federal Reserve had pegged the average incremental cost at four cents per transaction and suggested the cap should be no higher than 12 cents. However, its final decision didn’t reflect those numbers.
“There’s so much at stake here for U.S. retailers and their customers that we have no choice but to pursue this case as far as possible,” Mallory Duncan, the National Retail Federation’s senior vice president and general counsel, was quoted as saying.
“When a federal agency blatantly disregards the clear intent of legislation passed by Congress and signed into law by the president, that’s a dispute that cannot be ignored.”
About 8 million merchants in the United States accept debit cards, so any decision will have far-reaching impact.