Financial services giant MasterCard and mobile carrier Deutsche Telekom announced this morning that they would partner to accelerate adoption of mobile payments, which allow consumers to use their mobile phones to pay for goods and services.
MasterCard sees business opportunity in Deutsche Telekom's 93 million mobile customers in Europe.
The companies plan to begin in Poland and Germany, Deutsche Telekom's home country. The effort will begin with mobile phone tags and cards, with a "mobile wallet" service to follow. (The mobile wallet will be open to MasterCard's partners, such as banks and other financial institutions.)
Deutsche Telekom will funnel its part of the effort through its ClickandBuy subsidiary, which holds a license to manage electronic funds.
The growing market -- Gartner estimates it to be worth $617 billion in just four years -- has attracted numerous players large and small, all of which hope to get a piece of the action. The market opportunity has caused traditional financial players such as Visa and MasterCard to invest in technology companies at the same time as major technology players such as Google and Apple do the same. As if that weren't enough, middlemen like PayPal are also angling to get in between consumers with smartphones and the things they want to buy.
There's little doubt that a seamless consumer (and retail) experience will require collaboration among all of these companies, but that doesn't mean there won't be a few cross-checks along the way.
"The payment space continues to be ripe for innovation, particularly at a time when we’re seeing an accelerating movement away from cash-driven by technology," said Ann Cairns, the president of MasterCard's International Markets group. "Through today's announcement, we are showcasing a real meeting of the minds, and that's where true partnerships come from."
Photo: Cairns with Deutsche Telekom's Thomas Kiessling, at the announcement in Berlin. (MasterCard)