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MasterCard's MasterPass tries yet again to solve the mobile payments problem

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MasterCard MasterPass
MasterCard MasterPass

MasterCard has had its hands in the mobile payments space for a long time now, and here at Mobile World Congress 2013, the company is announcing MasterPass, the latest expansion of its mobile payments platform. MasterPass is an extension of MasterCard's existing PayPass program that lets users make payments in person using NFC equipped devices and online with a virtual wallet. MasterPass expands those services with support for payments through QR codes and tags, essentially eliminating the hardware requirements that limited the older system. The system can be used to accept payments regardless of the device in use, whether that be an iOS phone, Android tablet, or something else entirely. Additionally, the platform will enable merchants to accept payments no matter where the customer is, allowing customers to purchase items from a variety of locations (the company used the example of buying a pair of pants right from the dressing room).

Buy your pants before you even leave the dressing room

MasterPass also adds what the company calls "value added services," letting customers access things like account balances, loyalty programs, and discount offers from within the program. The virtual wallet component of the program lets consumers store card information, addresses, and other payment info in MasterCard's cloud, enabling one-click purchases with participating merchants. The wallet supports all of the major credit and debit cards, so it is not limited to just MasterCard credit cards.

Is this the ticket for mobile payments success?

Mobile payments have not taken off with consumers for a variety of reasons, but MasterCard feels that MasterPass answers the two biggest hurdles that face adoption: hardware requirements and making the benefits of mobile payments obvious to the consumer. The company says that it already has support for MasterPass from a host of financial institutions and merchants, including big names like American Airlines, but we'll have to see if this is the mobile payments effort that finally gets consumers on board.