September 16, 2011

MasterCard (Purchase, N.Y.) on Thursday unveiled some possible scenarios for a future of paperless mobile payment systems, showing off some of the ideas being cooked up in its MasterCard Labs division and demoing its Google Wallet app first announced in May.

During an event for media and analysts, MasterCard showed off of the work of its R&D division -- some of which may or may not ever come to market. Among these was its "QkR" platform, which featured several innovations in the mobile payments sphere, such as the ability to purchase items from a television via signals encoded with purchase data that can be scanned by phones with a QkR app, and allowing a phone user to scan a rebate coupon and sharing it on social networking sites such as Facebook.

The company also said an announcement on its rollout of the Google Wallet would come soon. The app will allow users -- via a PayPass-eligible Citi MasterCard or a virtual Google Prepaid card -- to tap their phone and pay at any store that accepts PayPass for an instantaneous transaction.

At the start of the event, MasterCard CEO Ajay Banga talked about a future, albeit likely a distant one, where all transactions are conducted electronically.

"We have been engaging with governments and opinion leaders about the benefits of not using cash," he said, claiming that the time and cost for central banks to print, distribute and secure cash is counterproductive.

Banga said that 85 percent of retail transactions worldwide are made with cash or check, and MasterCard hopes not only to increase its share in the remaining 15 percent with its credit, debit and prepaid cards, but help grow that sector by several percentage points in the coming year.

Bryan Yurcan is associate editor for Bank Systems and Technology. He has worked in various editorial capacities for newspapers and magazines for the past 8 years. After beginning his career as ...