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    MasterCard Launches PayPass

    Chevron among first companies to test wireless competitor to ExxonMobil's Speedpass.

    PURCHASE, N.Y. -- MasterCard International yesterday launched MasterCard PayPass, a new contactless card payment program that provides consumers with a way to pay without digging into their wallets for cash or credit cards. San Francisco-based Chevron Texaco Corp. convenience stores in Orlando, Fla. are among the first retailers to test the system. Other merchants to sign up for the technology include Friendly's, Loews Universal Cineplex, Chase and Citibank.

    The MasterCard PayPass system is similar to Exxon Mobil Corp.'s Speedpass with one distinct feature -- it resembles a typical MasterCard credit or debit card. All of the necessary payment data is encrypted in the card's magnetic stripe. Customers simply tap or wave their payment card on a specially equipped merchant terminal that then transmits payment details wirelessly, eliminating the need to swipe the card through a reader. The new solution is ideal for traditional cash-only environments where speed is essential, such as c-stores, gas stations and fast-food restaurants. Data for Speedpass is encrypted in special transponders carried on a users key chain or mounted on their car.

    Since the MasterCard PayPass card can be used exactly like existing magnetic stripe cards in addition to the new PayPass feature, consumers can also use it at any of MasterCard's more than 29 million acceptance locations around the world.

    "The introduction of MasterCard PayPass is a prime example of MasterCard's commitment to providing our customers, and their cardholders, with a variety of innovative and secure options to meet their evolving payment needs," said Art Kranzley, chief e-business officer for the credit card company. "MasterCard PayPass transactions are simpler and faster than cash, and leverage the high-level security of payment cards, that consumers have come to trust."

    Kranzley said MasterCard recently completed extensive consumer research that indicated 63 percent of consumers surveyed said that they would "definitely" or "probably" use MasterCard PayPass if their bank offered it to them. Also, consumers surveyed who would "definitely" use MasterCard PayPass indicated that it would replace cash in more than half (53 percent) of their future transactions. Consumers' feedback indicated that PayPass is perceived to be "innovative" and "fun to use," as well as an enhancement that "would make shopping less of a hassle."

    Technical Features
    MasterCard PayPass features a hidden embedded computer chip and antennae. Account details are communicated directly to the special terminals and are then processed through MasterCard's network.

    The Orlando trial, which will run through June, is expected to test the operational reliability, interoperability and the cardholder and merchant experiences of MasterCard PayPass. Chase, Citibank and MBNA banks will be reissuing cards that feature the enhanced payment technology to a sampling of their Orlando-based cardholders. If the trial is a success, MasterCard plans to introduce PayPass to additional markets over the next year. Technology partners include Verifone.

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