Wednesday, 16 March 2011

MasterCard & Visa Race To Bring microSD Mobile Payments To Oz

By Matthew Lentini

MasterCard claims mobile touch-and-go payments through microSD cards is the future of mobile phones in Australia.
The company made the call following Visa's announcement earlier this week of a 50-employee trial with ANZ of iPhone cases embedded with Near Field Communications (NFC) chips to test contactless payments like in PayPass and PayWave cards.

The microSD card system, currently used in overseas markets like south-east Asia, embeds an aerial behind the case of a mobile phone, with the SD card running banking software on the phone that would be used to select bank accounts on the phone.

David Masters, VP of Corporate Affairs at MasterCard, says that new contactless payment systems on mobiles will reach Australia "really soon," but this vague bracket is any figure under a two year margin.

Meanwhile Visa's four week trial is using a microSD card embedded in a phone case with software in the form of an app being installed to make the case function as a mobile payment system.

MasterCard has criticised Visa's trial as ‘late' compared to its own trials in 2007, though the chips being tested by both companies use the same technology and neither company has a mobile solution on the Australian market yet.

The company has been working with Westpac and Commonwealth Bank on upcoming payments systems, though have not been able to reveal anything officially yet.

Masters also added that "a long term solution is needed" and that consumers would not be willing to pay the nominal fee for Visa's iPhone case option.

The technology used in upcoming NFC releases works in the same way as PayPass and Paywave cards, though the hurdle is in software rather than hardware.

Banks would need to update their current software for transactions through microSD card mobile payments to make the technology work for real-world transactions. While many phones are being released with NFC chips in-built, the chips cannot be harnessed without bank software allowing its use.


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