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MasterCard and 7-Eleven Launch NFC Trial

During the trial, participating consumers will download a contactless-payment application to their mobile phones, enabling them to use the phones just as they would NFC-enabled contactless payment cards.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor
Nov 07, 2006MasterCard is recruiting customers of 7-Eleven's Speak Out mobile-phone service for a trial that lets them download a contactless-payment application allowing their phone to function as a PayPass-enabled MasterCard credit card. As participants join the trial—some have joined already—they will each receive a Nokia 3220 mobile phone, along with instructions on how to configure the phone for contactless payments.

Once the phone is set up, the participant can use it to make purchases at any of the 32,000 merchant locations worldwide that accept MasterCard's PayPass RFID-enabled payments. MasterCard is seeking participants from all over the world, though many will be based in Dallas, home to 7-Eleven's corporate headquarters and technology partners, including Nokia's U.S. center.

When functioning as electronic-payment devices, the Nokia 3220 mobile phones used for the trial employ near-field communication (NFC), a high-frequency RFID protocol for mobile electronic devices. The technology has been in development for a number of years, and the industry association NFC Forum has established standards for how NFC tags and readers share data. Early technology trials in Europe and the United States proved that consumers are interested in using NFC-enabled phones to make purchases, as well as for multimedia applications.

For this new trial, MasterCard is working with Giesecke & Devrient, a German firm that develops secure platforms for electronic transactions. The goal is to test the effectiveness of Giesecke & Devrient's over-the-air NFC account-payment configurations solution, designed to enable consumers to dial up a specified phone number and quickly link a payment account, such as a credit- or debit-card account, to an NFC-enabled phone. This allows them to use the phone just as they would use an RFID-enabled payment card.

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