MasterCard, PrePay Solutions and Mobistar introduce contactless mobile payments in Belgium



MasterCard Belgium is introducing its contactless mobile payment solution in Belgium.

The new payment technology claims to transform a consumer’s smartphone into a payment card, and is currently being implemented by local MasterCard personnel.

This solution has been developed in collaboration with several partners such as Mobistar, who will be implementing the payment solution among its employees later this year, Oberthur Technologies, PrePay Solutions and Penrillian.

The key advantage of contactless is that it is quick and easy for both consumer and merchant, and gives incentive to both to use their payment device over cash, said MasterCard.

The NFC-enabled-phone allows consumers to make everyday purchases by simply tapping at a contactless terminal at the merchant location.

Knowing the card or device doesn’t leave the consumer’s hand, it gives him a great feeling of security and control, the company claims. The final transaction amount will be deducted directly from the customer’s account, similar to a standard card payment.

With the introduction of this new payment technology, MasterCard said it took advantage of the popularity and versatility of payments via smartphone and used it as a basis and means to provide consumers and merchants with a suitable solution for low value daily payments.

Shorter queues at the register

Paying contactless via smartphone is said to be easy: consumers can simply hold their smartphone within 4cm of the contactless terminal during any transaction. This allows for quick and easy payment at check-out. Low value payments up to €25 will be completed without requiring a customer’s PIN number. This feature is ideal where time matters most such as supermarkets, fast food restaurants, newspaper kiosks, etc.

The user-benefits are said to be multiple: MasterCard contactless technology integrates layers of protection to help prevent unauthorised purchases. There is also no need to fumble with cash or bother waiting for the transaction receipt. Consumers may simply tap and go.

MasterCard and partners at the forefront of innovation

As part of the introduction process of contactless mobile payments and terminals across Belgium, MasterCard has equipped its Belgian staff and a selection of local retailers and restaurants with the contactless payment technology.

The project was developed in collaboration with several partners: telecom operator Mobistar, who provided technical know-how and experience in mobile payment, Prepay Solutions, the financial institution which will process the contactless payments via MasterCard prepaid cards, Oberthur Technologies, who developed the NFC SIM cards and cardlets necessary for the contactless mobile payments and Penrillian, who managed key technical support roles for the mobile payments.

After this new payment ecosystem has been deployed in Belgium, MasterCard said it expects an important number of all Belgian payment terminals to upgrade to contactless technology within the next year.

“We are very enthusiastic about the introduction of mobile payments,” saids David Dechamps, general manager at MasterCard Benelux “Payments via smartphone have been on the rise the last couple of years – but the technology has always been restricted to an e-commerce environment. From now on, consumers can transform their smartphone to an actual wallet and conduct payments at contactless terminals in regular shops. This means a huge boost of ease-of-payment.”

“Smartphones and tablets have replaced traditional mobile phones,” says Jean-Marc Harion, CEO at Mobistar. “Belgian consumers have become a lot more ‘digitally savvy’ – which means their smartphone plays a more central role in their daily lives. We are convinced that consumers are ready to use their smartphone as a secure mobile payment method.”

Speaking on behalf of Oberthur Technologies, Michael Utermann, deputy general manager Telecom Europe, said: “We are delighted to take part in the first NFC mobile payment pilot in Belgium by providing our NFC SIM cards which integrate our MasterCard contactless application. Thanks to our technology embedded in our NFC SIM card, end-users can use their smartphone to pay in a secure quick and convenient way.”

Ray Brash, CEO at Prepay Solutions, said: “This launch makes mobile wallets and contactless payments a reality in Belgium. With their payment means fully integrated to their office phone MasterCard employees become ambassadors of innovation in payments. We’re very pleased to stand alongside MasterCard.”

Contactless payments sees international advance

Ever since the first contactless transaction in 2005, the technology has seen a tremendous growth all around the world. Consumers who use their smartphone or contactless card have the option to shop at more than 2.5m shops worldwide equipped with contactless terminals. This means the number of locations with a contactless terminal has more than doubled compared to last year.

Terminals in Belgium started to be updated to accept contactless payments so that this reboot is bound to be widely accepted among consumers, claims MasterCard. Contactless Maestro and MasterCard technology is currently used in 36 European countries and 66 countries worldwide. Eleven countries are already commercially live with mobile contactless implementations.