Visa Inc. wants to put mobile payments on the road. Literally. MasterCard Worldwide, meanwhile, has taken a page from the 20th century comic strip Dick Tracy in heralding a partnership to enable contactless payments using select luxury brand watches. Both card companies were at the Mobile World Congress the week of Feb. 22, 2016, in Barcelona, Spain, where MasterCard also revealed details of a pilot of an accountholder authentication method using biometrics.
Consumers participating in the MasterCard pilot, conducted in the Netherlands in partnership with International Card Services, had the option to authenticate their online purchases using their fingerprints or selfies. Upon completion of the six-month pilot, nine out of 10 participants said they would gladly replace their passwords with biometrics for online purchases, according to MasterCard.
And MasterCard is betting the Dutch are not unique in their preferences for biometrics. Plans are underway to launch the biometric identification technology in the United States, Canada and parts of Europe beginning the summer of 2016, MasterCard said in a statement.
MasterCard's new partnership, with WISeKey SA, a Swiss company that supports online security for leading luxury watchmakers (most notably Bulgari), bolsters the card company's efforts to enable payments to any consumer gadget, accessory or wearable.
"Our collaboration with WISeKey is a great example of how payments functionality can deliver transformative value for a variety of device manufacturers, and create safe and convenient shopping experiences for their consumers," said Sherri Haymond, Senior Vice President, Digital Payments and Labs at MasterCard.
WISeKey Chief Executive Officer Carlos Moreira said he expects the arrangement with MasterCard to "open the door to additional e-commerce and marketing opportunities for luxury wearable device and watch manufacturers."
Visa also created some buzz at the Mobile World Congress when disclosing the results of partnerships with the auto manufacturer Honda Motor Co. Ltd. and on-demand parking app developer ParkWhiz.
The fuel and parking app concepts Visa demonstrated rely on Visa Token Service (an integrated set of tokenization tools) and Visa Checkout. The fuel app detects when an automobile is low on fuel and navigates the driver to nearby gas stations. Once at the pump, the app knows exactly how much gas is needed and can calculate the cost of a fill up, which the driver can authorize without leaving the car. Additional purchases (like coffee from the convenience mart) are supported too, as are loyalty and rewards programs, Visa said.
After parking an auto, a consumer using the parking app would push the "park" button on the app and walk away. Once he or she returns, the elapsed time and amount paid are displayed on the dashboard; the driver simply presses a button to complete the transaction. "Eliminating the need for drivers to take tickets or check out at pay boxes is a giant step toward a frictionless experience and a big win for drivers," said ParkWhiz CEO Aashish Dalal.
Visa introduced the concept of car-based commerce at the 2015 Mobile World Congress when it showcased how it could simplify ordering food at a quick service restaurant's drive through. Since then, Visa has continued to evolve the concept, most recently testing how auto-based payments could work when purchasing or leasing autos or managing tolls from the driver's seat.
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