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Visa, MasterCard start using Android for mobile payments

MasterCard and Visa want to make it easier for you to pay for goods at retail stores with a tap of a smartphone. The US credit card groups on Wednesday separately announced two Internet-based technologies providing merchants and banks with more options to make mobile payments happen in a big way.

The technologies follow the introduction of a new feature in the Android mobile operating system called Host Card Emulation (HCE). HCE allows any NFC (near field communication) application on an Android device to emulate a smart card, letting users wave-to-pay with their smartphones. Financial institutions, on the other hand, will benefit from hosting payment accounts in a secure, virtual cloud.

It enables users to store their card information in the cloud for NFC payments. Previously, card information used to get locked away on the device itself. HCE is supported by both Android KitKat and BlackBerry 10. MasterCard said it will publish a specification that leverages HCE for secure NFC payment transactions. The aim is to enable consumers to easily use their MasterCard-branded cards on their NFC-enabled phones to make contactless payments. As a part of the specification development process, MasterCard worked with Capital One on the initial pilot and with Banco Sabadell on a European pilot. The company is mulling over publishing its secure remote payment specifications during the first half of 2014.

“Our clients and partners around the globe are continuously looking for flexible, cost efficient and secure ways to enable mobile payments,” said Elizabeth Buse, Executive Vice President, Global Solutions, Visa Inc. “The Android HCE feature provides us with a platform to evolve the Visa payWave standard, support the development of secure, cloud-based mobile applications, while at the same time offer greater choice to our clients.”

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“The Android community continues to build innovative ways to improve the lives of mobile users. We introduced HCE to make it easier for developers to create NFC applications like mobile payments, loyalty programs, transit passes, and other custom services,” said Benjamin Poiesz, Google Android Product Manager. “Visa’s move to enable NFC payments with Android devices is welcome news and will guide the way for the payments industry.”


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