MasterCard teams up with Intel for digital payments

Chipmaker Intel is joining forces with MasterCard to develop secure digital transactions, spanning both traditional online portals and payments powered by near-field communication (NFC) technology. Although the two firms have not yet released details of their new partnership, the agreement is expected to last a number of years and combine MasterCard’s PayPass NFC payment service with Intel’s ID protection technology. With payment security still named as chief barrier to consumer adoption of mobile payments, payment firms are coming under increasing pressure to prove that they are taking consumer privacy seriously.

This is the latest partnership to emerge in the digital payment space over the past year, as credit card firms and manufacturers pair up to gain an edge in the fast-moving market. Intel and MasterCard say that they are working on “a variety of emerging payments technologies” to make payments made on PCs and Ultrabooks running on Intel chips more secure. This will include Intel’s Identity Protection Technology (IPT), which incorporates two-tier payment authentication barriers during online purchasing and hardware-based malware protection, in a bid to block the threat of online fraudsters.

Mastercard, which paid USD520m for British payments provider DataCash last year, has already made a number of forays into the mobile payment sector. The firm is one of four credit card firms, alongside Visa, American Express and Discover, that partnered with Isis, a joint venture between mobile operators AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile. Meanwhile MasterCard is also the only payment service partnered with Google’s recently-launched Google Wallet. Unveiled in May, the service is now being rolled out across the US and currently allows users of NFC-enabled Nexus S handsets running on US operator Sprint to make payments at MasterCard’s PayPass terminals.

MasterCard’s deal with Intel will rely on the same PayPass terminals that are installed in an estimated 150,000 retail outlets including Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s and Toys ‘R’ Us, across the US to process NFC payments. While reports suggest that Google will expand its Google Wallet partnerships to include more banks and operators early next year, MasterCard has already taken a strong lead.

Despite consumer fears, the mobile payments market is expected to be worth USD670bn by 2015 according to some reports, with the pair facing steep competition from a raft of rival “wave and pay” NFC services from the likes of Visa. Meanwhile Square’s plug-in card reader is now processing USD11m worth of payments per day, as competition for consumer loyalty becomes more acute.

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