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RFID in the Goodie Bag

MasterCard says events are a great platform for promoting PayPass, its RFID-enabled payment cards.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor
Feb 27, 2008At last week's BRIT Awards, an annual pop music awards presented by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), Paul McCartney was honored for his lifetime achievements, Amy Winehouse (the previous year's winner in the category of "Best British Female Solo Artist") sang, and attendees received cold, hard, virtual cash in their goodie bags, in the form of prepaid, RFID-enabled PayPass payment cards from MasterCard, the event's lead sponsor.

This is the second time MasterCard has used a major entertainment event as a venue for showcasing its PayPass product, which employs radio frequency identification to transmit encrypted payment data to RFID-enabled payment terminals. In October 2007, the company issued the cards to attendees of Fashion Rocks, a star-studded fund-raising event for The Prince's Trust, a youth charity founded in 1976 by the Prince of Wales.

Attendees each received a PayPass card loaded with funds, which they could use to purchase drinks and flash drives containing award winners' music.

"These type of events are a great opportunity to create a limited-edition, exclusive card with PayPass," says Oliver Steeley, MasterCard's head of strategy and business planning in the United Kingdom. "And the BRIT Awards is our biggest client entertainment event of the year, so it's a great opportunity to put PayPass in people's hands."

At the event, which took place Feb. 20, each attendee received a PayPass card loaded with £10 ($20). MasterCard paid for the cards and the value loaded onto each one, as part of its sponsorship. Those with balcony seats could use the card to purchase drinks at concession stands equipped with PayPass card readers, while those seated at a table on the main floor could use them to purchase a £10, branded USB flash drive loaded with musical tracks of selected award winners. (Table guests received complimentary beverage service.)

Unlike those issued at Fashion Rocks, the BRIT Awards-branded PayPass cards can also be utilized after the event, to pay for goods at any merchant location that accepts PayPass. MasterCard launched a large campaign to introduce PayPass in the United Kingdom in September 2007 (see MasterCard Rolls Out Contactless Carpet in the U.K.) and says it is partnering with several U.K. banks, including Barclays, Citibank and HSBC, to issue 5 million PayPass cards by 2009. McDonald's, Coffee Republic, Krispy Kreme and Books Etc. are among the U.K. merchants accepting the cards.


Walt Augustinowicz 2008-02-27 01:28:59 PM
RFID shielding card sleeves It would be helpful for the consumer if the card issuers would provide a Secure Sleeve(tm) with each one of the cards. This would prevent anyone from reading their card name, number, and expiration date from their cards right out of their wallet or purse from a distance. They could custom imprint them and make it a marketing piece. You may want to get them on your own until the issuer starts providing them. You can buy them on www.idstronghold.com or in the UK www.smartcardfocus.com/skimstopper

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