Although momentum is building behind the uptake of contactless
mobile payments using near-field-communication (NFC) technology,
one stumbling block is that NFC-enabled phones are yet to become
widespread. Until they do, payment players have been scratching
their heads as to how to get consumers familiar with the concept of
the tap and go transaction.

Contactless payment stickers that can be attached to mobile
handsets are now being touted as a viable interim measure until
handset technology catches up with contactless innovation.

Payment network MasterCard and global payment
processor First Data have both rolled out contactless payment
stickers in an effort to pave the way for handsets that incorporate
built-in NFC payment capability.

MasterCard has teamed up with US mobile
commerce solution provider Blaze Mobile to launch the Blaze
Mobile-MasterCard PayPass sticker which can be affixed to any
mobile device and used at over 141,000 merchant locations worldwide
accepting PayPass contactless transactions.

The Blaze Mobile sticker is tied to a prepaid
card account issued by MetaBank, and is designed to complement the
Blaze Mobile Wallet which enables mobile phone users to purchase
cinema and event tickets, view receipts and manage bank accounts
with their handset.

“This innovative mobile payment sticker
leverages the ubiquity and convenience of mobile phones, as well as
the increasing comfort level among consumers with converging
technologies on mobile devices,” said Art Kranzley, chief emerging
technology officer at MasterCard Worldwide.

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“Having a payment capability on the phone is a
great way for consumers to see the benefit of having a payment
capability in the phone.”

Meanwhile, First Data is partnering with
European chip manufacturer INSIDE Contactless to launch its own
version of the contactless sticker, known as ‘GO-Tag’.

Under a three-year agreement, INSIDE
Contactless will supply MicroPass payment sticker prelams to First
Data-qualified card manufacturers for production, while First Data
will market and distribute the product to financial institutions,
merchants and other distribution channels via various form

The significance of the roll-out of these
contactless stickers is that up until now, they have been
restricted to closed-loop environments with specific merchants, but
they will now be compatible with MasterCard’s PayPass platform and
Visa’s payWave platform, opening up contactless mobile payments to
millions of mobile phone users.

Turkey’s Garanti Bank was one of the world’s
first banks to launch its own sticker version, the ‘Bonus Trink’
offering, in 2008.

According to Nick Holland, of US payment
research consultancy Aite Group, the use of contactless stickers,
while fairly unsophisticated, is a first step in introducing
consumers to contactless mobile transactions until NFC-enabled
phones become commonplace in the next four to five years.

“The issuance of the Blaze Mobile MasterCard
PayPass mobile payment sticker is one more indicator of the
momentum that is building behind NFC technology as the mobile
payment mechanism of choice for major card networks,” Holland told

“While the sticker is an interim form factor,
this will at least begin the conditioning of end users to pay by
tapping a phone rather than swiping a card.

“The litmus test however will be the level of
uptake of NFC stickers by the end user – are they really prepared
to place stickers on their phones and will they feel that the
security is robust enough to do this?”