MasterCard yesterday announced a merger with a new partner: your cell phone. The company has launched what it calls its Over-the-Air Provisioning Service, which will allow MasterCard's PayPass program to work with a mobile phone equipped with Near Field Communication (NFC).
Instead of swiping your card, you may be swiping your mobile device very soon. This technology has been very popular in Japan, where tech gadgets are a national pastime, but consumers and banks have been reluctant to embrace the technology here.
That may all be about to change. MasterCard's James Anderson told Reuters recently that MasterCard was in talks with some banks to begin full product launches and not just consumer trials, although no timeline for the rollout was mentioned. The other issue will be finding NFC-equipped phones. Last year, Nokia began investing heavily in NFC technology and some reports suggest that NFC will be in one third of all cell phones within the next five years.
It could be a big hurdle for consumers to get comfortable with the idea of paying with their cell phone, but if the right security measures are built in to protect personal data the old leather wallet may eventually become a thing of the past.