Will 2013 Be the Year of Mobile Payments?

It’s a question that is being discussed a lot lately. And as global head of mobile payments at MasterCard, I see no shortage of opinions on what business models, technologies and offerings will succeed.

While mobile payments are generally still in the early days, there is already mass adoption in a few countries across the globe, in particular the Philippines, Kenya and the US (for accepting payments on smartphones / tablets). Many companies are driving to invent, design and build solutions aimed at providing consumers with a more convenient and more secure payment experience vs. a simple cash transaction. We at MasterCard are partnering with many of these innovators as we look to address the ongoing convergence between the physical and digital worlds made possible by the mobile device.

 

This convergence is dramatically transforming consumer behavior worldwide; it is radically altering the day-to-day payment experience. In both developed and emerging markets, consumers are changing the way they interact with merchants and with each other via their mobile devices. And these fundamental changes in how consumers interact will also transform how they transact.

So, what’s driving this conversion of physical to digital? It’s driven in large part by the continued adoption of connected devices – from the simplest mobile handsets to PCs, smartphones, tablets and game systems; even cars and appliances like refrigerators are getting connected. And the real opportunity for all of us is the fact that every one of these devices is becoming a commerce device.

At MasterCard, we are leading this transition to digital as we move beyond the simple payment transaction into creating better shopping experiences for consumers, and generating more value and increased sales to merchants.  This is exemplified through our mobile initiatives with partners around the world such as Everything Everywhere, Deutsche Telecom, StarHub and DoCoMo, as well as our PayPass Wallet Services platform which won the “Best of CTIA” Mobile Payment Technology award.

As we head into 2013, I often get asked whether cloud or contactless (NFC)-based technologies will prevail. The key to this is that these are not – and they have never been – mutually exclusive approaches. MasterCard fully endorses NFC as an ideal technology to deliver convenience and value to consumers and merchants for point of sale transactions. However, consumers and merchants want to interact in many ways: sometimes at the point of sale, sometimes on the internet, and now in new ways that are just emerging like “in-aisle” purchases. What is most powerful about the mobile device is its flexibility to be used in so many ways by consumers.

Perhaps most importantly, unlike the approaches we have seen from others, we’ll continue to focus on our partner-centric model to help enhance our partners’ relationships with their customers.

Keep an eye out for us in February at Mobile World Congress where we’ll be showcasing partnerships and solutions from every continent, hosting conversations around the future of commerce, and advancing the dialogue around the powerful role MasterCard is playing in moving towards a world beyond cash.

So stay tuned for what will surely be an amazing 2013. And in the meantime, we wish all of our cardholders, customers and partners a happy, healthy New Year!